More than 180 residents living in an unincorporated area of Vista joined forces to scrape together a little more than $400,000 for major work repair to Elevado Road and the offshoots to 15 side roads — 98 percent of all residents contributed.
Vista resident Pete McHugh led the steering committee for Save Elevado Road. Twenty-five active community members helped execute the project.
McHugh said that the Save Elevado project final phase was completed last month as it was assured to members of the community it would be.
“They (residents) gave us our trust,” McHugh said. “This was an all-volunteer operation and to see the project to the end I think enhances the community feel on an ongoing basis regarding what we can do in the future. We came through with this project as promised and in the timeline as promised. And when you do that, it lends to credibility for future projects.”
Located in the backcountry, Elevado Road is more than 1.5 miles long. The further motorists travel up the road, the steeper the canyons that drivers encounter. Elevado Road is best described as a relatively complicated little road network dating back to the 1940s.
The road was built organically — as homes were built, so were the road extensions. Unlike a traditional suburban community with CC&Rs and road maintenance agreements, those living on Elevado Road or one of its finger roads had an old-fashioned system where the road was essentially a series of easements.
The consequence was property owners were obligated to pay for these private road repairs since Elevado Road is not a public road for the 181 homes located in this infrastructure.
According to the Save Elevado steering committee, the last time any significant road work repairs were done was back in 1989 — but the repairs were limited due to the lack of community participation. Since then, parts of the road were falling apart.
So, a group of community members decided enough was enough and championed the Save Elevado Road efforts. And it was no small feat. From a website, email blasts, fundraising, billboards and more, residents set their sights on a goal and achieved it.
Bernie Hentges, a 43-year resident of the Elevado Road community, said when even when he first moved there the roads weren’t that good.
“Over the years, they (roads) deteriorated more and more,” Hentges said. “Each time the potholes occurred they would damage cars, so I would go ahead fill the potholes.”
Hentges performed pothole repairs for more than three decades on Elevado Road. Now, those days are finally over.
Resident Lorie Johansen said that before the major repairs the potholes were big enough to sit in like a bathtub. While Johansen took before and after photos of the project, she was also in communication with the community.
“When I spoke to neighbors they would tell me how organized and professional we all were,” she said, adding what a huge compliment it was for all involved.
The Save Elevado Road fundraising campaign launched in September 2017. By the very next month, the campaign had raised 60 percent of the money needed for repairs. And by November, 90 percent of it was collected.
The roadwork project was done in three phases. The last phase was completed in September 2018. The steering committee is quick to point out that the work was far more than a patch job. A total of 98 sections of the road were cut open, lifted out, removed and fresh asphalt re-poured in those areas.
A handful of contractors took part in one or more phases on Elevado Road or one of the finger roads. Some of those contractors included Joe’s Paving Co., Inc., George Weir Asphalt, Mission Paving and Sealing, Inc. and A.C. Dyke.
Community resident Linda Birnie called the efforts a huge sense of accomplishment.
“We never thought we’d get it done because they had tried it several years back,” she said. “It takes a village — it takes a team. What a success that we came up with the money.”
Nicole Siska moved to the area in 2016. As a new resident, she called the Save Elevado Road involvement a great one.
“It was very exciting to be able to participate in this project and to meet my neighbors,” she said. “It was an opportunity to get involved in the neighborhood and to do something that really is going to have a lasting impact not only for the current residents but the future residents as well.”