Press Staff Writer
The timing of a project to prevent further erosion of the Mad River bluff will depend on an analysis of how unstable it is.
Tom Mattson, the county’s director of public works, said that the Eureka-based LACO Associates engineering firm is expected to complete its analysis of the bluff’s stability this week and the results will “guide us on the next steps.” If the bluff is found to be fairly stable, the environmental review for an erosion control project will be more prolonged.
But if the analysis concludes that the bluff is unstable, a “streamlined environmental process” will follow, Mattson said.
The $18,000 cost of the analysis is drawn from a $90,000 fund made up of contributions from the seven homeowners who are considered the project’s beneficiaries. Bluff erosion became county news in December 2005 when a series of storms rapidly intensified it.
Those living in the neighborhood at School Road and Verwer Court saw the edge of the bluff advance 15 feet closer to their homes. After numerous and sometimes tense negotiations, homeowners agreed to waive county liability for a $1.5 million federal project to stabilize the bluff.
That project could begin this summer, but Mattson emphasized that the outcome of LACO’s analysis will impact the schedule. “A lot is riding on what we’re waiting for right now,” he said.
After the analysis is submitted, Mattson will go before the county’s Board of Supervisors with recommendations and a request for direction.
The federal Natural Resources Conservation Service is paying 75 percent of the project cost. The state’s Office of Emergency Services has agreed to pay 25 percent. Of the $100,000 needed to cover the initial permitting and design phase, the homeowners are paying $90,000 and the rest is split between the county and the McKinleyville Community Services District, which owns property and sewer lines near the bluff.