By John Ramos

MORAGA (KPIX 5) — The Contra Costa County town of Moraga is fed up with what it feels is foot-dragging by East Bay MUD over a bridge that washed out in a storm nearly three years ago.

Officials in the town are now taking legal action.

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It is one lane in and out over the bridge on Canyon Road in Moraga. The temporary steel bridge was constructed in 2017 after a heavy winter storm eroded the land under the bridge that was there.

For nearly a year, the people living in the wooded town of Canyon had to take a half hour detour through Oakland to get to town. So even having to wait for a turn on the narrow bridge was welcomed.

“It’s functional now, which is all I care about,” said Moraga resident Donavin Sell as he waited at the light. “When it was closed, that was an issue. Now it’s a single lane bridge. It works,”

But the town of Moraga’s patience has worn thin. The town council has authorized its lawyer to take legal action against EBMUD, which owns the property along the creek.

The utility has been accused of causing landslides by transferring too much water through the creek. In a statement on the town’s website, the mayor says, “…they are not taking responsibility for damages that their landslides have caused to the old bridge, the temporary bridge and increases in the design and construction costs of a new bridge.”

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In its own statement, EBMUD said it is disappointed that Moraga has decided to sue. “EBMUD and the Town of Moraga have been, and are continuing, to discuss an acceptable resolution to the problems caused by these natural disasters,” the statement read in part.

But Laura Kelly, who lives alongside the creek, believes the disasters weren’t so natural after all. She says lots of water moved through the creek during dry months for two years. Then, during the wet winter, her neighbors’ backyards began to slide. Since then, two houses have been condemned.

It has stayed that way for years now.

“My husband writes to them every quarter or so, asking, ‘What’s going on? Why hasn’t anything changed?'” Kelly said. “And we always get these canned responses from the public relations people. It doesn’t look like they’re even searching for any kind of fix.”

EBMUD maintains that its water flows did not contribute to the slides. They say they are still waiting for federal funding to repair the hillsides.

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A new permanent bridge costing nearly $10 million has been delayed until 2020 because of a backlog of work for Caltrans. It is expected to be finished sometime in 2021.