Community Input: Who Is Responsible for Road Repairs?

Community Input: We have been happily flooded with letters from readers recently. We will resume important dialogues here next week. This week we want to answer your many questions about the progress being made in the “Road Grump” events. As you know, Kern County has now agreed to be accountable for valid claims for broken windshields. But what about accountability for poor contract supervision? We saw that problem two years ago in the building of the library. Here are the facts we have today. —Patric Hedlund, Editor

 By Gary Meyer

After Kern County began paying claims for broken windshields, several remaining questions flowed into the newspaper: Will the road be fixed? When? What method of paving will be used? And who is responsible to pay for the faulty work—the taxpayers?

Kern County Engineering Manager Todd Wood told The Mountain Enterprise on February 22: “Yes, the roads department is planning repairs to the chip seal.” The repairs will be done “as soon as pavement temperatures are consistently high enough for paving and sealing—most likely late spring or early summer.” Wood said he is not yet sure which paving will be used: “We are evaluating various methods and have not selected the exact method as of this date.”

Regarding liability for the faulty work, Chief Deputy County Counsel Mark Nations told The Mountain Enterprise on January 3 the county had subcontracted the application of the emulsion to a private company and county workers applied the rock to the emulsion. Wood said in January the county has a purchase order with Environmental Concepts, subcontracted to Western Oil Spreading Services, Inc. for asphalt binder spreading services.

Nations said it could take a while to sort out who was at fault for the failure of the road treatment and may necessitate a lawsuit to have experts testify as to what was done when and by whom.

While individual claims for vehicle damage are being paid directly by the county, if the contractor is found to be at fault, its insurance carrier might pay a claim the county files against the contractor. Logically, such a claim could include the costs of repairing windshields.

If county workers are found to be at fault, the taxpayers could end up paying for that portion of faulty work performed by county personnel.

Those who need claim forms for broken windshields can pick them up at the CHP office in Lebec, the Family Resource Center, Grapevine Real Estate in Lake of the Woods or The Mountain Enterprise office in Frazier Park.

This is part of the March 02, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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