The poorly-constructed county roads within Circle Oaks were not designed to handle increased traffic and the heavy trucks and equipment anticipated following approval of this project.

Construction vehicles, including transportation of heavy equipment, will be accessing the project site through Circle Oaks roads, all of which are in poor states of repair. They are historically not well maintained by the County of Napa.

A Condition of Approval (CP-1) has been added in the FEIR which sets the following new restrictions (FEIR, Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Plan, page 54) :

  • No construction equipment may be delivered via Circle Oaks Drive
  • Extra-legal loads (exceeding 80,000 lbs) and construction equipment deliveries (as defined in Table 3.5) must be delivered through Walt’s “Gate 1”

While the new restrictions are welcomed by the community of Circle Oaks to help reduce noise levels created by transportation of construction equipment through the community, the restriction falls short of the continued serious concerns about pedestrian safety and the deteriorated condition of Circle Oaks arterials that may still be used by Walt Ranch for all other purposes which were not restricted. (See: Update Noise and Acoustics)

  • DENW commissioned a Geo Technical Engineering Report to evaluate the condition of Circle Oaks roads and in particular, Circle Oaks Drive which is presently in a state of failure and this state was reported to the County of Napa prior to finalizing the FEIR and required mitigations listed therein.
  • K.C. Engineering Company performed on onsite evaluation of Circle Oaks Drive on September 6, 2016; they identified two areas of extensive pavement distress:
    • Area A includes extensive road settlement (over 1 foot in depth) and cracking over a zone about 300 feet in length. The area is also inadequately sloped causing water infill at the top of the slope and into the open cracks during rain events. K.C. Engineering Company report, pages 2-3)
    • Area B exhibits similar road subsidence with  extensive pavement cracking (as in Area A) which allows infiltration of water due to poor drainage K.C. Engineering Company report, page 3)
  • Any alternative route (inside Circle Oaks) should also be evaluated for road impacts and slope stability considering the historical instability of roads in the Circle Oaks Community. (K.C. Engineering Company report, page 4)
  • Infiltration of water into roadway cracks can result of sudden failure of fill embankment. Such failure could also damage underground sewer and water facilities (located under) the roadway (K.C. Engineering Company report, page 4)

As stated in the report by K.C. Engineering, the future stability of the road embankment in Areas A & B of Circle Oaks Drive is a critical concern. They noted that the fill portion of the roadway is experiencing excessive movement of more than 12 inches. Further, that projects with embankments of this type can fail suddenly as a result of heavy rain, resulting in loss of the road as well as underground utilities. (K.C. Engineering Company report, page 3)

  • K.C. Engineering opined that the additional heavy truck traffic and future operations traffic will significantly exacerbate the existing road damage and increase the design Traffic index. (K.C. Engineering Company report, pages 3-4)
  • K.C. Engineering recommends that the County retain a qualified Geotechnical Engineering Consultant to perform an evalution of both areas (A & B) to obtain recommendations for pavement rehabilitation and slope rehabilitation.
  • K.C. Engineering further recommends that the County retain a Civil Engineering Consultant to evaluate site and road hydraulics, surface water drainage and provide mitigative design drawings.
  • In addition, a traffic study should also be performed to evaluate the appropriate traffic index and pavement section.

Water and sewer lines are located directly beneath many of the roads in Circle Oaks. If the roads within Circle Oaks fail, it is highly likely that water and sewer services will also be susceptible to damage and rendered inoperable without expensive repairs.

  • The community of Circle Oaks recently approved major infrastructure repairs to the sewer and water delivery system within Circle Oaks. The cost of these repairs exceeded $4,000,000 and is being borne by the residents of this community.
  • Who will be responsible to pay for repairs to Circle Oaks’ private water and sewer disposal system if it is damaged by construction and vineyard related traffic? See comment letter by Circle Oaks Water District, dated November 20, 2014 (Link to come).
  • Evidence of the condition of roads within the community of Circle Oaks has been documented by Mark Billings, a qualified expert. Mr. Billings has evaluated roads within Circle Oaks and has determined that they are sub-standard County Roads not designed for heavy loads or significantly increased traffic and are presently in danger of failure (similar to recent failure of SR 121). They will be significantly adversely impacted once the project is approved and added traffic from construction related activities occurs. [See comment letters from Mark Billings, dated November 21, 2014 and April 3, 2016.]
  • There have been historic failures of several roads within the Circle Oaks subdivision. As shown on the below subdivision map of the road system, failures have occurred on both arterial roadways: Circle Oaks Drive and Country Club Lane. Other erosion and subsidence concerns have occurred in the past and/or are continuing to occur presently on other roadways within the community, including Ridgecrest Drive. As illustrated in the below diagram of the Circle Oaks subdivision, both arterials have experienced major road failures.
  • Longitudinal cracks in Circle Oaks Drive

    Longitudinal cracks in Circle Oaks Drive

    Evidence of continuing deterioration and progressive failure of Circle Oaks Drive (e.g. deep longitudinal, block and transverse cracks of medium to high severity, indicating subsidence of the subgrade and imminent failure) is documented by letter submitted by Mark Billings, a Certified Public Infrastructure Inspector, CFII. Road failure is imminent in the portion of Circle Oaks Drive spanning from Sunnyhill Drive to about 218 Circle Oaks Drive, where the roadway is observed to be sliding to the East. [See comment letters from Mark Billings, dated November 21, 2014 and April 3, 2016.]

  • Photographs of existing and ongoing failure of Circle Oaks Drive are shown below, depicting road failure similar to the recent collapse of SR 121. [See comment letter by David Heitzman regarding road failures within Circle Oaks.

A probe inserted 2 ft down into a longitudinal crack in Circle Oaks Drive. The crack is actually much deeper into the substrate. (Photograph by David Heitzman)

Changes in road level at area of road failure on Circle Oaks Drive. (Photograph by David Heitzman)

  • The right side of this section of Circle Oaks Drive drops down 65 ft. into Capell Creek, at a 65% grade. If the sewer lines under the road are disturbed, sewage could also flow into the Capell Creek, which is designated as a blue line creek.
  • In 2006, a major repair was necessary near 262 Circle Oaks Drive due to another road failure incident caused by excessive rain and subsidence. The cost of this repair was several hundred thousand dollars. This is the second time that Napa County Public Works has had to make extensive repairs at this location of Circle Oaks Drive. The necessity to repair this section of roadway twice is indicative of the difficulty repairing roads in areas where soils are unstable and surrounding hillside slopes are steep.
Road repair near 262 Circle Oaks Drive, 2006. [Photograph courtesy of Napa County Public Works]

Road repair near 262 Circle Oaks Drive, 2006. [Photograph courtesy of Napa County Public Works]

  • Previous subsidence alongside Country Club Lane, shown below, was repaired in the early 2000s by the County of Napa. The roadbed continues to slip as evidenced by cracking in the asphalt which goes deep into the substrate.

Slide repair near 233 Country Club Lane, 2014. [Photograph courtesy of Sue Wagner]

  • Deep longitudinal cracks are apparent near 233 Country Club Lane, where a previous road failure was repaired by the County of Napa.
Road condition near 233 Country Club Lane, 2014. [Photograph courtesy of Sue Wagner]

Road condition near 233 Country Club Lane, 2014. [Photograph courtesy of Sue Wagner]

  • Road bed subsidence on Ridgecrest Drive continues despite numerous repairs over recent years which have not been able to stabilize this subsidence zone.

CO dr road damage7

Road condition on NE loop of Ridgecrest Drive, 2014. [Photograph courtesy of Sue Wagner]

Ridgecrest Dr (loop - NE view) Asphalt roadway reveals stress fractures caused by ongoing land subsidence prevalent in the area (2014) [photograph courtesy of Sue Wagner]

Ridgecrest Dr. (loop, NE view) asphalt roadway reveals stress fractures caused by ongoing land subsidence prevalent in the area, 2014. [Photograph courtesy of Sue Wagner]









  • Mitigation measure 4.7-4 provides for monitoring of Circle Oaks Drive only, and for replacement of roadway surface or damage to identified sub-surface infrastructure, only if a third party consultant has determined that the increased traffic due to construction activities has caused the road surface or infrastructure to deteriorate further. There is no mention of any responsibility for other roadways used by the applicant in lieu or in addition to Circle Oaks Drive. For example, the Applicant will also need to use Country Club Lane and Juniper Drive to access a portion of the vineyard slated for construction in that location. In addition to concerns about the adequacy of timely detecting and repair of sub-surface roadway concerns prior to actual failure, the mitigation measure is inadequate because it fails to include all roadways anticipated to be used by the Applicant. [See comment letters by David Heitzman, dated November 21, 2014; Sue Wagner, dated April 3, 2016].
  • The Walt Ranch project proponents failed to give any meaningful consideration of alternative access routes to the Walt Ranch property beyond using the existing roads within Circle Oaks. There are several alternative access sites off SR 121 which could be developed for alternate access to the Walt Ranch Vineyard property without using roads within Circle Oaks.
  • Concerns that the recent failures of SR 121 are related to uphill vineyard development, as would be the case if the Walt Ranch Vineyard Conversion Project were approved, are discussed in the written comments submitted by local resident Ron Tamarisk. For further information concerning issues pertaining to roads and infrastructure concerns within Circle Oaks, see comment letter by Ron Tamarisk, dated April 4, 2016.

The FEIR now requires Walt Ranch to develop and use an alternate entrance (Gate 1) for all construction equipment deliveries and for extra-legal loads exceeding 80,000 lbs.

  • It does not remove the added burden on Circle Oaks Drive or other alternative roadways within Circle Oaks from construction  and vineyard traffic and other vehicular traffic weighing less than 80,000 lbs.  (See Condition of Approval 1)
  • The EIR does not contain specific geologic and/or geotechnical investigations and due to this lack of assessment prior to approval  of the Project, there was an improper analysis of the impact of Walt traffic on Circle Oaks Drive. (K.C. Engineering Company report, page 3)