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Why did the county grind up a freshly paved road near Tehachapi?

A sign on Cummings Valley Road near Tehachapi, Calif., warns drivers where county crews have recently removed several hundred feet of pavement. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

A caller to our Eyewitness News Tip Line last month wanted to know why the county removed several hundred feet of a road that it had just paved in the Tehachapi area.

Cummings Valley Road branches off Highway 202 west of Tehachapi and encircles a private homeowners association before meeting up with Giraudo Road, near the Indian Point Ranch.

Last year, the road was dirt until County Roads Commissioner Greg Pope said his department got a federal grant to pave the road as a form of dust mitigation. A roughly half-mile stretch was paved, but, days later, crews returned with a large grinder and removed several hundred feet. People living in the area took notice.

"I go in the morning, go to work, come back and it was (torn) down, no reason," Art Ramirez said. "They throw big money in and now they throw big money out. Who's paying? I don't know."

The portion that was removed was first laid down on a hill. On the other side of the hill, a large equestrian community banded together and signed a petition, telling the county that they should have planned better. Fast-moving traffic on a blind hill was a danger to pedestrians and horses on their side of the community.

Pope didn't argue.

"More time should've been spent up front, I don't disagree," he said. "We did too good a job paving it. It was really smooth and nice. So they could've run into it 50-60 mph on a blind hill. I just realized that was a real safety problem."

So with the intent to slow down traffic as it approached the other side of the hill, Pope sent a county crew to tear up several hundred feet of pavement at the top of the hill.

Many of the residents are happy, but what about county taxpayers? How much did it cost them to correct the mistake?

Pope wasn't able to find a specific amount, but said it was "no more than $10,000."

But, he says, the county didn't invest in any engineering work before the paving job, saving potentially tens of thousands. He wishes his team had done it right the first time, but says they still consider taxpayers to be money ahead after the fix.

"Would it have been better to avoid that last little bit, yeah," he said. "But that would've required more engineering."

If you would like to report a road hazard or you would like to request pavement on a public dirt road near you, call Yolanda Alcantar at (661) 862-5292.

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