Soil between road and culverts eroded by storm water
Soil between road and culverts eroded by storm water

Chimney Rock Road – Collapsed and Rebuilt by Weekend

Author: Public Works
Date: 1/13/2023 1:40:36 PM

PASO ROBLES – By Saturday, it is expected that stranded residents will have a safe road to travel from their homes on Chimney Rock where they have been stranded since Monday’s storm.

With no alternate road for the lakeside communities including Running Deer Ranch, CAL-Shasta and Tri-Counties neighborhoods, residents have sat in isolation— many without electricity, and propane running out for others.

Chimney Rock, a segment in the 1,349 miles of road maintained by County of San Luis Obispo Public Works, was one of more than a thousand calls Public Works received in the four days following the storm. Damage across the county is being inspected and prioritized based on impact to public safety.

Engineers and other experts were immediately dispatched to Chimney Rock to assess the situation. From above, the road looked safe, and even the culverts below ground were intact, but standing on the asphalt, the sound of falling earth could be heard. Storm water had washed away soil between the road and the culverts underneath, creating a large void under the road.

To repair the road as it stood would have taken up to a month, which wasn’t an acceptable timeframe, so alternative plans were considered. In the end, to save time on repairs without compromising safety, the decision was made to collapse the road and implement a temporary repair.

Public Works and the local contractor, Souza Construction, are working 24/7 to get the job done quickly.

“That decision to collapse the road meant we were going from what would have possibly been a month-long repair to one that will be potentially completed by the weekend,” said Public Works Director John Diodati. “There was a sense of urgency to provide access to these residents by getting this temporary repair finished before the next storm hit.”

The effort to serve these residents was a Countywide partnership. While Public Works addressed the road, the County of San Luis Obispo Emergency Operations Center made plans to assist the residents themselves. CAL FIRE investigated numerous alternative exit routes, but all had been compromised by the storm. Military-style temporary bridges were also considered, but the installation time and length needed to span the damaged area were limiting factors. A boat rescue was offered but ultimately not utilized as residents didn’t want to abandon their homes.