Most country roads are an accident of history. As people settled here and there, the roads that connected these settlements became part of the public road system. In Sonoma County, an area about the size of Rhode Island and almost twice as large as neighboring Marin County, that means a lot of public roads – 1,387 miles of roads, many of them in remote areas.

Unfortunately, the total number of road miles is only one factor in determining how much money the county will receive for maintaining those roads. The formula also takes into account population and the total number of registered vehicles – important advantages for Bay Area counties with more people and smaller land areas.

If you live in a sparsely populated area, this means you may be disappointed if you expect the county to make regular repairs to your favorite country road. My Sunday column – here – focuses on how government’s failure to respond to the big issues of our time can lead to potholes on a country lane with an unlikely name: Joy Road.