County prepares for roadwork on Oro-Quincy Highway

Delaine Fragnoli
Managing Editor

     County supervisors took a series of steps Tuesday, Jan. 19, in preparation of roadwork on the Oroville-Quincy Highway that will leave a portion of the byway closed for as long as eight weeks.

     The highway, also known as Bucks Lake Road/Big Creek Road or Forest Highway 119, runs from Quincy past Bucks Lake and down to Oroville. The work will take place on Big Creek Road.

     The first segment of work starts 9 miles north and east of the Butte/Plumas county line and extends east for 5.6 miles. The work includes road realignment at the Grizzly Creek Bridge area. The existing bridge near Grubbs Cow Camp will be replaced. Additional work includes pavement rehabilitation with some drainage improvements.

     The second segment of work starts 3.7 miles east of the Big Creek Road/Bucks Lake Road intersection at the Haskins Tee and includes pavement rehabilitation.

     The third segment of work poses the most logistical problems. It starts 7.7 miles east of the aforementioned intersection and includes construction of a retaining wall, pavement rehabilitation and drainage improvements.

     Because of the nearby stream bed, steep terrain and geology, a road closure will be necessary during construction of the retaining wall.

     Plumas County Public Works, the U.S. Forest Service and the Federal Highway Administration (since the road is a designated forest highway, the federal highway program has jurisdiction) have agreed the closure should occur after Labor Day weekend to avoid peak summer tourism and fire seasons. The maximum estimated time of road closure is eight weeks.

     During that time, traffic will be routed over Bucks Summit on Bucks Lake Road. However, county code imposes a vehicle weight restriction on Bucks Lake Road from its intersection with Big Creek Road near Toll Gate to where it rejoins Big Creek Road at the Haskins Tee. 

     John Mannle, representing the county road department, told supervisors the weight limit wasn’t often enforced and it was adopted to deter logging trucks and other large vehicles from traveling through the resort areas along Bucks Lake.

     Plumas National Forest has agreed to re-direct its personnel and contractors onto Forest Service roads to bypass the closure area and to minimize traffic on Bucks Lake Road.

     By contract, the FHA will keep a minimum of one lane of traffic open during the rest of the construction period.

     The road department was asking the supervisors to do three things: Approve the work plans and specifications from the FHA and concur with its recommendation to advertise and award the project; approve a temporary road closure on Big Creek Road, presently scheduled for after Labor Day weekend 2010; and temporarily suspend the weight restriction for commercial vehicles on Bucks Lake Road during the Big Creek Road closure.

     The supervisors had no problem with the first two items, especially since the majority of the funding for the $12 million project is coming from federal stimulus dollars.

     Supervisor Lori Simpson had questions about the economic effects of the project. She expressed concern that hunters and leaf peepers use the area in the fall and she did not want to see tourism hurt.

     Mannle said he understood her concern, but noted the work was supposed to be completed after Labor Day 2010 but before Memorial Day 2011. The amount of water in the soil and the creek level could prohibit springtime work, as could a heavy snow year.

     Simpson asked if the construction workers would come from out of the area and use local motels, campgrounds or other services.

            Mannle said he didn’t know. The contract will be a HUB (historically underutilized business) zone set-aside. This type of contract helps federal agencies

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