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Battle over Yuba County goldfields road heats up

12:29 AM, Dec 5, 2012   |    comments
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  • Weekend flooding washed out Hammonton Road in the Yuba County goldfields.
  • Weekend flooding washed out Hammonton Road in the Yuba County goldfields.
  • Weekend flooding washed out Hammonton Road in the Yuba County goldfields.

YUBA COUNTY, Calif. - A fight over who controls Hammonton Road in the Yuba County goldfields has heated up after weekend flooding washed out a section of the road.

The one-time stage route beside the goldfields has been battled over for a century and a half; residents who live along the road argue that a state appellate court ruling in 2002 made it clear the county is responsible for the road and its maintenance.

The county disagrees and a sign at the start of the road makes it clear it is not maintained.

"The county has an extensive network of roads and that one road is not included in that," Yuba County spokesperson Russ Brown said.

"It's unbelievable," said resident Freda Calvert, as she held up a copy of a 1996 edition of the Appeal Democrat newspaper, whose headline reads, "Yuba Supervisors Move to Gain Access to River."

Court battles continued over whether there should be public access to the road, with a state appeals court ruling that said, in part, "... the county has the right to set regulations about the use of and access to the road, just as it has the right to regulate the use of other county roads."

The county said it does not have the funds to fix the road and has, so far, been unable to find grant money to make repairs.

"The board of supervisors has looked at this and they have not allocated any funds for the maintenance of this road because it is outside of their purview," Brown said.

Residents said they must drive at least an hour longer to reach jobs and schools and they worry about emergency services.

"Having children, if there's an emergency, how are we going to get them help?" asked Donna Jenkins, who said she now spends an extra two hours a day getting her kids to and from school.

Jenkins said she expects the washout to get worse as winter rains continue.

Jenkins and others said the shutdown of the road is also limiting public access to the fishing, campsites and spectacular views of the goldfields.


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