OAKLEY -- This may be the last winter residents on Raye Avenue have to deal with standing water.

Calling it an urgent situation, East Contra Costa transportation leaders recently agreed to give Oakley an advanced payment of $750,000 in Caltrans funds to improve the flood-prone road.

Raye Avenue, on the southeastern side of Oakley off Main Street, floods a foot high or more when it rains, according to city officials and residents. The road, which dead-ends about two blocks east of Main, has standing water for three to four weeks at a time, resident Jere Fournier said.

"We've been dealing with it for 40 years. I call it the Raye lake," Fournier said.

The standing water poses a possible health risk because of West Nile virus and can damage private property, he said.

"It's going to make things so much better," Fournier said.

The project, which includes rebuilding the road and adding storm drainage and sewer lines, has been in Oakley's plans for the last decade, but there have been hiccups to its funding, Councilman Jim Frazier said.

Most recently, Oakley had planned to use redevelopment money for the project, but it "become a casualty" of the state's dissolution of those funds, City Engineer Jason Vogan said.

The small road, which only serves about 30 parcels, also doesn't qualify for grant assistance, he said.

So, Oakley turned to its regional partners for assistance.


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Oakley was to receive $1.47 million at a later date from the East Contra Costa Regional Fee and Financing Authority as part of an agreement for the agency using developer funds to build Highway 4 for Caltrans. Control of the old Highway 4, which includes Main Street, was relinquished to Oakley, Brentwood and the county by Caltrans earlier this year. Caltrans gave each city some money to bring the roads up to good repair, Vogan said.

Raye Avenue wasn't always the only street in the area to flood.

Before Oakley incorporated in 1999, Malicoat Avenue, Douglas Road, Hill Avenue and Raye Avenue were all rural roadways and prone to the same flooding issues. KB Homes received approval from the county to fix up Malicoat, Douglas and Hill to provide access to its new housing subdivision but¿ didn't seek approval for Raye. Adding to the frustration, Fournier said, is that Raye has not received any work since it was sealed in 1996 -- before Oakley incorporated as a city.

"We feel like we've been treated like stepchildren out here," said Fournier, who has advocated for fixing up the road since 2001.

The project would likely go out to bid in the spring and work would start in the summer, Vogan said.

Before approving the allocation at the transportation authority's Nov. 8 meeting, Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor asked several times about the state of the agency's budget without that money.

"It concerns me. I don't want to break the bank," said Taylor.

Frazier pointed out that Oakley is the only East Contra Costa city not to see any direct benefit from money doled out from the transportation authority.

"It was just a case of Oakley being a good regional partner and asking for some help," he said.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.