Imperial County Supervisors Declare State of Emergency

By Mario Conde

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors ratified the State of Emergency declaration because of the heavy rains last week and moved to immediately bid to repair Evan Hewes Highway and Huff Road.

Imperial County Fire Chief Tony Rouhotas explained the damages caused by the rain and the damages to the agricultural areas and to County Road. He said that Imperial Valley experienced a storm system that released an estimated two to four inches of rain. The rain created excessive flows within wash areas and Imperial Irrigation district drain and canal systems. Water undermined and eroded the base of the roadway until the roadway failed.

A 900-foot section of the roadway at Dunaway Road was undermined and eroded by the natural occurring wash that forms at rain events in the area. County forces are currently working now dewatering and reestablishing the base material of the roadway. County forces will continue on this project and complete the installation of the asphalt concrete deck. Chief Rouhotas congratulated Public Works for the fixing Dunaway Road in a timely manner. He said the estimated dollar lost for the County of Imperial was $500,000, Imperial Irrigation District lost $2.9 million, and the agricultural community lost approximately $20 million.

Public Works director Bill Burnett reported that on Evan Hewes Highway west of Huff Road, a section of the roadway approximately 1000 linear feet failed due to the Salt Creek Slough wash facility exceeding flow capacity. The water flow continued to build as the current pipe and headwall constricted the flow’s progress. The result of this event was that the water eroded the section underneath the roadway and the roadway section failed. Burnett said that Imperial County and Imperial Irrigation District forces have met on site and discussed the option for addressing the issues.

IID will move forward with the bringing in a clayey, impermeable material and place in lifts to 95% over geomembrane fabric up to 2 feet below the road finish surface elevation. The impermeable material is designed to minimize future water intrusion that could undermine the nee roadbed. Once IID completes its portion of the work the County will complete the installation of roadway material and open the road to traffic. The estimate time for completion of the work is approximately seven working days.

The preliminary estimated construction cost is approximately $500,000 for both segments. The DPW intends to use Measure D and Local Gas Tax funds for this project and applying for emergency disaster relief funding when it becomes available.

Chairman Mike Kelley and the Board of Supervisors congratulated the all of the County agencies who did an excellent job responding to the emergency.