pothole (copy)

Once Napa County repaves a road to get rid of potholes, it doesn't want anybody cutting into the new pavement for five years.

Once Napa County fixes a road, it doesn’t want anybody cutting into the newly pristine pavement and leaving behind a patch job.

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to stop this practice in the unincorporated county—the area outside of cities—that is under its jurisdiction. It introduced a pavement preservation law and will take a final vote at a future meeting.

This pavement preservation law would stop utilities and others from cutting into newly paved roads for five years, except under certain conditions, such as emergencies or imminent interruption of essential utility service.

“Once a road is paved, any new cuts into that pavement will substantially decrease the life of that pavement,” a county report said.

Local Measure T sales tax and state Senate Bill One fuel taxes and vehicle fees are allowing the county to step up its road repairs. Between them, they will boost Napa County road funds from about $7 million annually to more than $17 million annually.

Supervisor Belia Ramos called the pavement preservation law a step toward protecting the county’s investments in roads.

Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht said the influx of new road repair revenues makes the pavement preservation law timely.

“Our citizenry has just invested quite a bit of money into our roads,” he said. “Our roads have not been worth saving in a long time. Now they will be.”

Napa County with its new road revenues will be trying to boost an overall pavement condition score of 51 on a scale of one to 100, with 100 being best. A 51 score means road pavement is considered to be at risk, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

County officials said the five-year length for the pavement-cutting moratorium is the “industry standard” among jurisdictions with such a law. The length corresponds to the length of time before a repaved road needs preventive maintenance such as chip seals.

Napa County is not the only local jurisdiction to seek or enact a pavement-cutting moratorium. Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza recalled that the city of Napa in 2014 passed similar law during his stint on the City Council.

County Public Works Director Steven Lederer said the county will do outreach to PG&E, Napa Sanitation District and others that might cut into roads to reach utilities below the pavement. It will share the county five-year road plan with them.

Lederer used a combined project by the Napa Sanitation District and the county in an unincorporated neighborhood near east Imola Avenue as an example of how road project coordination can work. The Napa Sanitation District is doing sewer work and then the county will move in with a repaving project.

The county and NapaSan are already coordinating a similar 2025 project in the unincorporated county pocket near Redwood Road surrounded by the city of Napa. That’s how far ahead the two are looking, Lederer said.

Supervisors urged Lederer to broaden the outreach to institutions such as Pacific Union College that might have reason to cut into a county road to reach utilities.

Should the county grant a waiver and allow a pavement cut into a repaved road within five years, it would require repaving for that section of the road.

“We don’t want a patch,” Lederer said. “We want the road restored to its former glory, if you will.”

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.