Caltrans ready to begin bridge replacement with stimulus money


  One of the largest examples of stimulus funds making it into Plumas County is about to get underway as Caltrans will begin advertising a construction project estimated to cost around $22 million in mid-February.

  Caltrans received $28 million in stimulus funding to replace the Spanish Creek Bridge, which is nearing the end of its service life.

  That funding will cover the project itself and any administrative overhead.

  Caltrans Project Manager Eric Orr said the public will begin to see work on the project in February when tree and vegetation removal will begin.

  The construction project will be awarded in April, with work on the bridge likely to begin in June.

  Orr explained that drops in construction prices have caused the Caltrans estimate for the project to plummet from $36 million to the current guess of around $22 million.

  He predicted the project would be the largest Caltrans operation in Plumas County for at least the next five years.

  The project manager said the Spanish Creek Campground would be closed for the entire three-year project length for safety reasons, as the work site will be accessed through the campground.

  He added that traffic would be impacted throughout the process from time to time, but drivers would not have to deal with daily delays over the entire three years.

  Orr said the new bridge would be about 40 feet downstream from the old one, with the older structure remaining operational until after the project was completed to cut down on traffic impacts.

  He said the old bridge would be removed at that time, after the county museum had an opportunity to record and archive historical information about it.

  The Plumas County Board of Supervisors discussed the project at a Tuesday, Jan. 12, meeting where Supervisor Robert Meacher explained contractors bidding on the project would have to attend a meeting with local subcontractors and Caltrans, which he hoped would lead to local companies being involved in the project.

  Orr confirmed Caltrans was “trying to encourage the prime bidders to use small local contractors through this process.”

  Orr also confirmed that the old bridge was the last one in the Canyon that stopped trucks with “extra legal permit loads in terms of weight” from traveling that route.

  He said that change could be useful for the railroad and would give companies more options when Highways 50 and 80 were closed, although he clarified he didn’t anticipate an increase in traffic that would be noticeable to people who frequently drive the Canyon.

  Meacher told his fellow supervisors the ability for more trucks to use that route would “actually bring more commerce through.”

  Readers with questions for Orr may contact him at (530) 225-3439.

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