Bumpy roads ahead for rural residents

Car wheels crunching on a gravel road may lyrically evoke life in rural America. But for some Sonoma County residents, it's more like fingernails on a blackboard.

"I'm from rural Indiana. I grew up on gravel roads," said Chris Hanlin, who lives on Sonoma Mountain. "They're not fun."

Hanlin is dismayed by the county's new plan to preserve the pavement on a select list of 31 heavily traveled roads, allowing more than 1,200 miles of roads to deteriorate, with some eventually being converted to gravel.

"Sounds like neglect to me," said Hanlin, who works from his home on Sonoma Mountain Road. "This is ridiculous. We are not a third world country."

Failing roads are a concern for rural residents, ranchers and grape growers, but less of a worry to the vital tourism industry.

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