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The bumpy lanes of Keiser Avenue in Rohnert Park are hemmed in by weeds, bushes and blackberry bushes in some sections. It's Sonoma County's worst road, based on Road Warrior reader votes. Road Warrior photo

It’s only a mile long, but it’s narrow, cracked, sections of its sides are dropping away and it’s riddled with pothole patches with more potholes unfilled.

It’s Keiser Avenue in Rohnert Park, and it’s the worst road in Sonoma County, according to readers who voted in the Road Warrior’s Third Annual Worst Road Contest.

A total of 82 roads were singled out by readers as their worst, and although Keiser “won” this year, a drive around the county, particularly in rural areas, will discover many roads that are as bad or perhaps even worse.

“I swear I’ve had parts fall off my car, there is so much shaking from the deep potholes,” a reader by the name of Heather wrote in. “They continue to patch it regularly as if it will actually make a difference.”

Pothole patching is all Keiser Avenue is going to get for now, says Pat Barnes, Rohnert Park’s deputy city engineer.

He says the city estimates it would cost $2.6 million to totally rebuild Keiser, which runs from Snyder Lane east to Petaluma Hill Road, and that won’t happen until a developer at some future point begins a project along the road and takes on that reconstruction cost. Another option is for the city to tap an improvement fund financed by developers’ fees, but Barnes says that likely only would happen if the fund grows to a point of having extra cash.

From strictly a pavement condition rating, Barnes says Keiser isn’t the city’s worst road. There are a couple of others rated lower.

But, he says, “I can see how others think it’s the worst” because of the bumpy pavement, narrow lanes and ditches alongside. “It is the bumpiest road in Rohnert Park.”

He says Rohnert Park took over Keiser from the county in 2007 as part of an annexation and is doing its best at maintenance and monitoring it for potholes.

Cindy Senk, a co-owner of Senk Farms on the road, gives credit to the city roads crews.

“The city of Rohnert Park is very good in coming out” to fill potholes, she said, noting a phone call brings a quick response. But there’s not much a road crew can do than fill potholes — the road “is so far gone.”

The south side of Keiser is mostly fields; on the north side are six small homes and fields. Weeds, brush and blackberry bushes over the years have narrowed the road so that on some sections it’s not really wide enough for two cars to pass, let alone something like two pickups.

Reader CJ writes, “The only way to drive is down the middle. You play chicken with oncoming traffic.”

Senk, who voted for Keiser as the worst road, said the road is a frequent topic of discussion among customers at her farm, and some have come in with flat tires after hitting potholes. Her sister spent $1,100 to fix her BMV after it was damaged by a pothole, she said.

She said Keiser is particularly busy in the afternoon, at 3 when nearby Lawrence E. Jones Middle School gets out and at 5 when drivers who live in north Rohnert Park head home from work.

Runner-ups in this year’s contest were Spring Hill Road west of Petaluma and Highway 101 between Windsor and Healdsburg.

Last year’s winner was Lichau Road, a country route that winds up into the hills east of Rohnert Park, and 2010′s was Irwin Lane, west of Santa Rosa.

Tom O’Kane, deputy director of the county Transportation and Public Works Department, says a county committee tentatively plans to recommend improvements for some sections of Lichau Road, but there are no such plans for Irwin Lane or Spring Hill Road.

It all comes down to money, he says: The county doesn’t have enough to do all of the repairs needed.

For Lichau Road, residents along it have organized to push the county Board of Supervisors to improve the road, and Lichau upgrades also have been favored by Save Our Sonoma Roads, a group formed about a year ago to lobby local officials to spend more money on road maintenance and improvements throughout the county.

To see readers’ comments/votes for the worst road, CLICK HERE.

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