ALTA SIERRA, Calif. (KERO) — Caltrans has announced the completion of extensive repair work on a much-used road in the Kern River Valley. On Friday, Caltrans construction crews were finishing up repair work on the 155 after flooding in the spring eroded the road and caused severe damage. For businesses and residents who live in Alta Sierra, the long-awaited opening of the road comes as a relief.
One of those relieved people is Jared Donoho, the director of operations for the Alta Sierra Ski Resort.
"It broke my heart, honestly, because this is a really, really great outlet for this community for them to just come up and enjoy themselves," said Donoho.
The Alta Sierra Ski Resort was heavily impacted by the closure of the 155. Donoho, who lives near the ski resort, says it was a great year for snowfall, but the resort wasn't able to stay open throughout it.
"We only had 16 operational days this last year and it could have been closer to 40 operational days, so financially, we took a massive hit," said Donoho. "With us closing when we did, I sat inside my house and watched this beautiful playground for everybody just kind of dwindle away."
Caltrans says they've installed larger culverts and engineered slopes to help prevent future damage. On Friday, the 155 opened completely between Wofford Heights and Alta Sierra, but there is one more planned culvert placement between Alta Sierra and Glennville to be constructed which will result in one-way traffic for half-mile with flaggers to help direct traffic.
The opening of the 155 will heavily impact residents, including Donoho, especially with regard to their daily commute time.
"Typically my trip to work is about 15 minutes down to Wofford Heights. It now turned to about a 45-50 minute drive," said Donoho, adding that it wasn't just his work commute that was impacted. He also had to take longer routes to get his kids from school and to sports.
"It was an endeavor financially, and on my vehicles, and I'm sure all the other residents up here can say the same," said Donoho.
One of those residents, Leslie Walker, lives right off the 155 and says the opening won't affect her commute, and she isn't looking forward to the increased traffic.
"I don't walk anywhere on this 155 anymore," said Walker. "It is scary. They drive too fast coming down, and they drive way too fast coming up, too."
But for Donolo, he's excited to have the extra time again.
"It's wonderful. Couldn't be more happy. Not only does it save me a bunch of time throughout my day, I'm able to get tools up here," said Donoho. "I spent all day today getting supplies ready so we can start maintenance on this property and make sure that it's ready for this season."
The installation of the final culvert between Alta Sierra and Glennville will start on Monday, September 18, and take roughly 2 months to complete.
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