Repairs to New Idria Road after 2021 washout estimated at $3.9 million

San Benito County is seeking 75% reimbursement from the California Office of Emergency Services.

San Benito County will be submitting a claim to the state seeking $3.9 million to repair last January’s storm damage to New Idria Road. It is the last and most expensive of four projects to repair washed-out roads from that storm

“New Idria Road was the worst-hit area,” said San Benito County Resource Management Agency Director Mike Chambless. “The washed-out area spans a chasm and we have created a temporary fix by creating a bridge with a whole lot of dirt and rock.”

The bridge project includes repairing about 200 feet of road adjacent to the bridge, RMA Assistant Director Steve Loupe said. He added that the county does not have the funds to repair several miles on New Idria Road that is in “state of disrepair.”

The other three repairs done by Graniterock were to areas of King City Road, Coalinga Road and Panoche Road. The damage to those roads was less extensive, costing $410,000 to repair all three.

The total cost of all the repairs is $4.3 million and the county is expecting the California Office of Emergency Services to refund the county 75% of the costs. No funds are distributed until the repairs are done.

“The New Idria Road repair has been needed for over a year now,” Chambless said. “It is crucial as a route for firefighters and other emergency responders. But it was such a high-dollar figure that we needed to consult with the state first. We have the design work started already so that will save us a few months but it will be late summer before the repair work is completed.”

One advantage to the state emergency program is that it will allow reimbursement for upgrades and improvements to the road that are made at the same time as the repair.

“We will be able to design it better to withstand future storms,” Chambless said. “If we had done the same repair under the Federal Emergency Management Agency program, we would have only been able to replace the road, not improve it. But the state office has been great—as soon as Governor [Newsom] approved the program, they were right here and on it.”

The previous estimate of $25 million in damages reported by the county in March was an error, Chambless said.

Totals for each project, as reported by San Benito County Engineer Steve Loupe, are:

  • $170,000 for culvert and embankment repairs along King City Road, Coalinga Road and Panoche Road
  • $130,000 for culvert replacement at post mile 0.01 on Coalinga Road
  • $110,000 for culvert replacement at post mile 1.64 on Coalinga Road
  • $3.9 million to replace the roadway and box culvert washout along New Idria Road (at the Los Pinos Creek crossing)



Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.