Columbia County officials are planning repairs to a Martinez road that collapsed last week, though its ownership and responsibility are still unclear.
A dam pipe running under Lakestone Court in Barrington gave way after heavy rains on June 3. The road collapse isolated residents of 12 homes, who were only allowed to drive across the temporarily repaired road for a couple of days before it was closed off again June 5.
“We’ve got residents (of 12 homes) that live on a county road that do not have access to police, fire or EMS,” County Administrator Scott Johnson said Friday. “Constitutionally, the No. 1 responsibility of county government is to provide public safety.
“We made the decision to go ahead and fix the road. ... We didn’t feel like it was in the best interest of the citizens to argue a legal point when public safety is at risk,” he said.
Ownership of the road and responsibility for its repairs still needs to be determined.
A document filed in the Clerk of Court’s Office in 1991 transfers to the county ownership of the road, but not the dam from the neighboring pond running under the road, from the now-defunct Waterford Development Co. and the Barrington Home Owners Association
The same document relieves the county of responsibility for maintenance of the dam and repair of the road if it is damaged because of dam failure.
However, a plat also filed in the clerk’s office in 1999 transfers ownership of Lakestone Court to the county.
“There are so many issues here,” Johnson said. “There are so many moving parts to this puzzle.”
Johnson said the road will be repaired and attorneys can work out ownership, responsibility and potential reimbursement later.
Calls to the county attorney Doug Batchelor and Vincent Davison, the homeowners association president, were not immediately returned Friday.
“At this point, we’re going to fix the road for public safety purposes and we’re going to determine who is responsible for it at a later date,” Johnson said.
The road needs to be repaired as quickly as possible.
“That thing is eroding daily,” Johnson said, adding that the 72-inch corrugated metal pipe has now completely caved in. “It’s progressively getting worse every day.”
County officials met with residents Tuesday to explain the process and what to expect. Schlachter said officials talk to residents daily and update them with nightly emails.
County officials are consulting engineers to determine details of the repair plans. The collapsed pipe will be replaced with a concrete box culvert or pipe, which are both much sturdier than the metal pipe and meet county code.
Matt Schlachter, Columbia Conty Construction and Maintenance Division director, said work to the site will begin as soon as it is determined when the materials and crew are available. Initial preparations are already under way including securing utilities, building an access road and draining the pond.
Johnson said he doesn’t yet have a cost-estimate or confirmed timeline for the project.