APTOS — More than three months after storm damage forced the closure of Valencia Elementary School, Santa Cruz County work crews are beginning the repair work, county spokesman Jason Hoppin said Wednesday.
A section of Valencia Road over Trout Gulch Creek has been closed since Jan. 23, when winter storms caused a large culvert to fail and the road to sink.
Since then, the county has been working with the Federal Highway Administration, Caltrans, state regulators, utility companies, neighbors and nearby Valencia Elementary School on a repair plan.
County staff originally planned for a one-lane temporary bridge over the crossing. However, the county determined that a two-way, two-lane bridge is preferred to better facilitate traffic flow.
The bridge is expected to be completed by early July.
The work will not come in time to allow the students to return to their classes this year. The closure forced the students to relocate to Mar Vista Elementary School, Cabrillo College’s Aptos campus, Aptos High School and Rolling Hills Middle School.
“This is a key step to bring back normalcy to the surrounding neighbors and Valencia Elementary School,” Supervisor Zach Friend said. “We’ve prioritized this repair from among 180 winter damage sites, and we’re moving toward reopening the road to traffic as soon as possible.”
On Monday, an excavator began removing fill near the impacted site. Drilling will begin shortly thereafter, as county contractors work to create a shoring system to allow for a culvert replacement located approximately 50 feet below road level, Hoppin said.
The $4 million repair is being funded by the Federal Highway Administration and local matching funds. The county is also working toward repairs at several other priority road sites throughout the unincorporated areas.