Critical Highway in South Monterey County Receives $12.6 Million for Repairs – The King City Rustler

JOLON — The Federal Highway Administration will provide $12.6 million in federal funding to repair and rebuild the Nacimiento-Fergusson Highway in South Monterey County, Congressman Jimmy Panetta announced in January.

The mountain road, which connects Highway 1 along the coast to Mission Road near Fort Hunter Liggett, Mission San Antonio, and the town of Jolon, serves as a critical emergency access road when the coastal road is inoperable.

“Although Highway 1 is the most beautiful road in the country, it is also one of the most fragile and unreliable roads due to frequent stoppages due to landslides, floods, fires and other weather events,” Rep. Panetta said. “That’s why Nacimiento-Fergusson Road is often the lifeline for many people who live along the Big Sur coast. Unfortunately, in its current state, Nacimiento-Fergusson is unusable and must be repaired immediately.

Sections of the road located in the Los Padres National Forest were damaged by landslides and flooding during a major storm in the winter of 2021. Many of these same damaged sections of road were located near or in burnt areas created by the Dolan fire. in 2020.

Shortly after the damage, Panetta requested that the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Highways (ERFO) program designate and fund road repairs. ERFO recently allocated multi-million dollar funding.

“Nacimiento Road suffered catastrophic damage during the Dolan Fire and post-winter storms and has since been inaccessible to everyone, including Big Sur Fire emergency vehicles due to the hazardous conditions,” said Big Sur Fire Chief Matt Harris. “Congressman Panetta recognized the importance of this road and the important role it plays in Big Sur Fire’s ability to effectively respond to emergencies in Big Sur. Through the leadership of Congressman Panetta, he helped facilitate this much-needed funding scholarship to repair the damage and restore access not only to the traveling public but also to emergency responders.

Nacimiento-Fergusson Road connects Highway 1 along the coast to Mission Road near Fort Hunter Liggett, Mission San Antonio, and the town of Jolon in South Monterey County. (Contributed)

With the ERFO designation and funds granted, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) can begin the construction process. Going forward, FHA will begin project design efforts in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the building agency to report all potential environmental side effects of actions proposed by the federal agency.

In addition, FHA will work with the relevant regulatory agencies to apply for all necessary permits for the project, particularly the State of California, which will also need to issue water permits for construction to begin. Once these permits are granted and the regulatory design processes are approved, the Department of Transportation and FHA will oversee the entire construction process in conjunction with the initial request for ERFO funding from the US Forest Service.

According to FHA’s initial work plan, the final preliminary design process will be completed by the end of this year, with a final construction completion date of December 2023.

“Congressman Panetta was instrumental in working with the Federal Highway Administration to secure emergency funding for storm damage repairs on the Nacimiento-Fergusson Highway,” said Tim Short, ranger at the Monterey District for the Los Padres National Forest. “We are grateful for the Congressman’s continued support and assistance.”

Panetta said he was committed to “ensuring that this timeline is met, if not accelerated, so that this lifeline is rebuilt and reopened as quickly and safely as possible.” The congressman’s office plans to meet regularly with the Forest Service and FHA to receive regular updates and continue to pressure the agencies to restore the Nacimiento-Fergusson road as soon as possible.

“I am proud that I was able to secure this federal funding to repair this road, but a lot of work needs to be done by many at all levels of government so that people, including our emergency services, can regularly rely on the Nacimiento and use it. – Fergusson Road,” Panetta said.

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