Same road, same problems

SAN BENITO — It has been more than two weeks since local press and social media brought attention to the conditions of Railroad Avenue.

But has anything changed for the residents living on the pothole-ridden caliche road?

Apparently, residents remain relatively in the dark regarding what lies ahead.

Earlier this month, a video exposing the poor condition of the road was posted on Facebook and received more than 2,000 views and comments from residents and friends of the community attesting to the nuisance that is Railroad Avenue.

Residents said they couldn’t get to their homes without having trouble and causing damage to their vehicles.

Grievances also included not receiving trash services and scarcity of mail.

One woman who lives on the road said it took 45 minutes for an ambulance to reach her house, mainly because of the road.

Since that time, city workers were instructed to continue to perform their regularly scheduled routes for garbage and other services.

Resident Victoria Zamora, who posted the video, said trash services resumed about a week after the video was initially posted.

But, the problems run deeper than that.

According to City Manager Manuel De la Rosa, there is not an access easement to the road, which is the reason the city is unable to do anything about repairing the potholed road.

“There’s no question in our mind as to who this road belongs to,” De la Rosa said. “It doesn’t belong to the city of San Benito.”

De la Rosa said during a meeting after the news organizations told the residents’ stories, the city was in talks with residents and Union Pacific to find a solution to the problem.

De la Rosa said the tracts of land have not been conveyed to the city, therefore, the road is considered private property.

“There is no separate tract, there is no conveyance to the city,” De la Rosa said.

He said the city could attempt again to get a right-of-way or an access easement all the way across, but the access easement has to be dedicated to the city.

“These residents will most likely have to work with us,” De la Rosa said.

But, at least one resident, Zamora, who said she is rarely home, said she hasn’t heard about any agreements.

De la Rosa said there was an unfortunate set of events that led to the condition of the road.

When last asked about the road, planning director Bernard Rodriguez said he had made contact with some owners and is working to contact the remaining.

“The city is moving forward with the initiative and will continue the process of requesting rights-of-way for access, enabling the city to service that area,” Rodriguez said.

He said the city is requesting a “right of entry” to maintain the street in its current condition and nothing more.

“What we lack is the ability to access the road legally,” Rodriguez said.

He said the city intends to move as soon as possible but the timeline is contingent upon agreements with property owners and the legal system.

“We hope to move as quickly as we can,” Rodriguez said.

According to Rodriguez, he has received positive feedback from the residents he has spoken to.

Additional residents could not be reached for comment.

Terms to know

• Plat – division of a piece of land

• Convey – legal process of transferring property from one owner to another

• Access easement – right to use or enter onto property without possessing it

• Right of way – legal right to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another