The undulations of Martinez Lake Road are one step closer to becoming a memory.
The Yuma County Board of Supervisors agreed unanimously Monday to let the county further pursue a $10.075 million grant with the Federal Highway Administration that would flatten and add drainage features to the road leading to the popular marine destination north of Yuma.
Specifically, the action allows the county to enter into an agreement with the FHA to develop a scoping report to define the project improvements and to draw up an estimate for the design, construction engineering and construction for improvements on a 5.65-mile stretch between Corral and Red Cloud Mine roads.
Craig Sellers, a senior civil engineer for the county, said the improvements are to address drainage and line-of-sight issues on the road, a ribbon of blacktop that curls along with the area's natural rolling terrain. He said the county included a video in its application for the grant, showing how a pickup was swallowed by the dips between high points.
In addition to flattening out the road, the stretch would get two bridges and several culvert crossings.
Supervisor Russell McCloud said he will miss the fun of negotiating the roller-coaster road, “but my fun driving the road is far outweighed by the safety and reliability” that will come with the updates.
The county must also provide a 5.75 percent local matching share for the award — or $574,275 — which would be drawn from its roads contingency fund.
Sellers said the match could probably be transferred later, but doing so promptly is a show of good faith and keeping with the quick pace the awards process has taken so far. The county applied for the award in February and found out it had been short-listed about three or four weeks ago.
The FHA tentatively picked the Martinez Lake Road project along with plans to improve roads in Coconino, Cochise and Yavapai counties. The award would come out of a $20 million pot from the Central Federal Lands Highway Division Arizona Access Program and would be funded in fiscal year 2015.
The final awards will be announced this summer.
2014 budget update
In a brief summary of the recommended budget for fiscal year 2014, County Administrator Robert Pickels said revenue has increased by 1.8 percent to $84,976,525. Expenditures have increased about 2.5 percent, also to $84,976,525.
Key challenges will be an increase in retirement plan and health care costs, a loss of some program funds and the absorption of state funding shifts that have put more burden on counties as the state has grappled with its own budget over the years.
The county also wants to add a few positions, including a sheriff's deputy assigned to the medical examiner's office, a deputy to specialize in gang intelligence and a part-time dispatcher to support animal control.
For property owners, though, the budget recommends leaving the tax levy flat at $22.3 million, even though the county is authorized to collect up to $25.4 million next year
More detailed examinations of next year's budget will be held Wednesday and Thursday. The sessions begin at 8:30 a.m. both days in the Board of Supervisors Auditorium, 198 S. Main St. They will also show in real time on the county's cable TV station, Yuma77, or online at www.yumacountyaz.gov/yuma77.
Foothills road displeasure
Several people filled seats in Monday's audience to let the supervisors know they don't approve of the condition of roads in the Foothills, especially the North and South Frontage roads and 40th Street.
County road crews have been filling in cracks on about six and a half miles of the frontage roads over the past few weeks. The process is several weeks in and won't be done for several months yet.
As it is, though, people like Lyman Waddill are not impressed. “It is worse than deplorable,” he said.
He brought photos of the roads to illustrate his points.
“We're tearing up our cars and they're getting dirty,” he told the supervisors. “The repair that you apparently authorized ... was less than satisfactory.”
Another concerned resident, Fred Forsythe, encouraged the supervisors to drive the roads to see their condition for themselves. “It's disgraceful and the money is being misspent in my opinion, and I think there's plenty of justification and proof to confirm that.”
Because the residents took up the topic during call to the public, supervisors were limited in how they could immediately respond. However, they made it clear they wanted to have a conversation. Supervisor Lenore Loroña Stuart directed staff to set up a forum with Foothills residents about road maintenance.