SANTA PAULA : Funds Sought, but Road Stays Blocked

A road covered with rocks from a landslide nearly three weeks ago will remain blocked while Ventura County officials seek federal and state funds to remove the debris.

The County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to declare the rockslide on South Mountain Road near Santa Paula a "state of local emergency," thus speeding up the paperwork for removing the 70,000 to 100,000 cubic yards of debris.

But the supervisors provided no money for the project, relying instead on the Federal Highway Administration to come through with the $200,000 to $300,000 needed for the cleanup.

Linking the landslide to an aftershock of the January earthquake, the county's Public Works Agency is seeking federal emergency funds for its repair.

If the federal money is not granted, officials will turn to the state.

The county, itself, has little money available for the unexpected cleanup project, said county Public Works Director Arthur E. Goulet.

"The (county) road fund is not healthy," Goulet said. "We suffered a big hit. This is not going to be easy to accommodate in the budget."

Supervisors urged him to contact California's congressional delegation for help with the project, so that the dirt and rocks can be removed before the autumn rains delays the work for months.

"This is not a road that you can leave obstructed," Supervisor Maggie Kildee said. "It is taking a long time to get everything in line."

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