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With one way in and one way out, this cul-de-sac on Scott Drive makes escape difficult to impossible during a wildfire.

County Proposes New Evac Route

OAKHURST—As part of his Town Hall series, District 5 Supervisor Robert Macaulay held a meeting at the Oakhurst Elementary School Multipurpose Room on January 22nd. He and other Madera County officials laid out plans for a potential evacuation route to serve the John West/Jean Road area of Oakhurst. The area is one of several in the eastern Madera County area with one-way-in, one-way-out access in emergency situations.

Supervisor Macaulay specifically called the meeting for residents of the affected area to get their feedback and voice their concerns. In addition to Macaulay, Matt Treber of the Madera County Community and Economic Development Department and Jared Carter of the Public Works Department attended the meeting.

Plan Connects Scott Drive with Yosemite Pines Drive

The plan as laid out by Madera County would build a class 3 connector road between Scott Drive and Yosemite Pines Drive. This would consist of two ten-foot lanes with a three-foot shoulder on either side, with an estimated design speed of 30 miles per hour. This project would affect one property owner, Don Bricker, who owns two parcels over which the road would pass. The county has been in negotiations with the property owner to purchase the land, and Bricker has indicated his willingness to consider the sale.

Roughly 130 parcels occupy the area intended for construction.

Yosemite Pines is a cul-de-sac of approximately five miles, with entrance off Road 222 in Oakhurst. Scott Drive, also a cul-de-sac, sits at the top of the John West residential area. Both roads are narrow with hairpin turns.

Scott Drive, showing road condition at intersection with Jean Road.

Citizens Voice Concerns

Approximately 50 citizens attended the meeting. Of those who spoke, an estimated ten of the fifty, voiced concerns about the impact such a development would have on their property and their lives. A major concern would be the effect on the road itself due to heavy equipment being moved in and out. Some residents stated that the roads currently need repair. They would be made worse by the proposed construction unless repairs to those roads took place at the same time.

At the end of the meeting a resident spoke out about his support of the project. His comments drew cheers and applause.

Another worry voiced by several residents is the possibility of increased traffic as a result of residents and visitors using the connector as a “faster” way to get to Bass Lake. Residents cited the presently-existing two hairpin turns on Scott Drive as already creating hazardous conditions, especially for drivers not familiar with the area.

Motivation to Sell Questioned

Residents questioned the motivation behind Bricker’s willingness to sell the property to the county. Clearly the new road would benefit the remainder of the parcels he owns and could lead to development of additional residences in the area. Matt Treber acknowledged that the sale and subsequent road construction would be of benefit to Bricker in the future, but the developer would have to go through already-established planning/permit procedures. Further, any intended construction would be subject to county approval.

Cul-de-sac end of Scott Drive

Although a short stretch of road, this will not be an easy construction. Per county officials, funds to build it would come completely from developer impact fees.

A resident questioned whether an unpaved road could be installed, versus the paved class 3 to save costs. The county responded that only a paved road would be county-maintained. An unpaved road would not be safe for emergency vehicles.

Additional Meeting Planned

County officials committed to addressing each one of the matters voiced by residents. They vowed to keep property owners apprised of the status of the development during each of its phases. In addition, county officials committed to hosting another community meeting to address concerns about road quality.

Photos by Judi Hussain. Robert Macaulay photo courtesy of Madera County.

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