Columbia County officials are planning repairs to a Martinez road that collapsed last week, though its ownership and responsibility remain unclear.
A dam pipe running under Lakestone Court in Barrington subdivision gave way after heavy rains on June 3. The road collapse isolated residents of 12 homes, who were allowed to drive across the temporarily repaired road only for a couple of days before it was closed off again June 5.
“We’ve got residents 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.”
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 ownership of the road to the county, but not the dam from the 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 and repair of the road because of dam failure.
A plat filed in the clerk’s office in 1999, however, 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 Doug Batchelor, the county attorney, and Vincent Davison, the president of the homeowners association, 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 quickly, he said.
“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 what to expect. Matt Schlachter, the Columbia County Construction and Maintenance Division director, said officials talk to residents daily and update them with e-mails.
The collapsed pipe will be replaced with a concrete box culvert or pipe. Both are sturdier than the metal pipe and meet county code.
Schlachter said work at the site will begin as soon as the materials and crew are available.
Initial preparations are already underway, including securing utilities, building an access road and draining the pond.
Johnson said he doesn’t have a cost-estimate or a confirmed timeline for the project.