Crumbling roads carry a hefty bill

Steve Perrott, walking on Paintbrush Court. The road is broken in a lot of places.

Several streets within the Bookcliff Ranches subdivision are falling apart, less than a decade after they were built and accepted into Mesa County’s road system.

In addition, many residents of the subdivision have been plagued by water seeping into their homes.

“We are at the end of the cul-de-sac and I need a boat to get to our mail,” said Susie Ball, who has lived on Paintbrush Court, within the subdivision, since 2002.

The Bookcliff Ranches subdivision, between 22 and 23 roads, south of H Road and north of Interstate 70, has “been a maintenance challenge” since it was approved by the county in 1999, said Mike Meininger, director of Mesa County Engineering.

The county already has repaired two of the subdivision’s streets, Foxfire and Goldenrod courts, for $49,000. On Monday, the Mesa County Commission approved another $126,549 to repair Paintbrush Court.

Dean Moore, who lives on Goldenrod Court, said the subdivision is a great place to live, but he has had to spend money to stay dry.

“All the houses ... are watering lawns and (that) raised the groundwater,” Moore said. “I put a liner under my house.”

The problem is that the soil is highly alkaline, Meininger said.

Although the land had been farmed in the past, the irrigation was never enough to wash the water-absorbent alkalis out of the soil, Meininger said.

“It is basically a sponge,” he said.

The water comes from home irrigation and septic systems, Meininger said. Ball, however, takes issue that because before she spent $50,000 on a drainage system, water used to appear in her home in the winter, she said.

The problems should not have been a surprise. On Jan. 26, 1999, when the County Commission approved the subdivision’s preliminary plan, several people spoke against the development.

“Comments and concerns were (about) impacts on agriculture, irrigation water and the water delivery, severe sewer and drainage problems, and an extremely high water table on this property,” according to the 1999 meeting notes. “Those in opposition were not objecting to the loss of agriculture land as this property was very high in alkali.”

Ball said she uncovered a 1998 report by Western Colorado Testing indicating a wildly fluctuating water table.

“Here is my biggest complaint: The county had this report, why were septic systems allowed out here?” Ball said. “I blame the county. They are supposed to be our safety net.”

Meininger said the repair approved Monday entails digging up the soil under the road and replacing it with aggregate wrapped in a man-made liner. The job is expected to take three months.


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