Nevada County leaders to lobby again for Bridgeport Bridge | TheUnion.com

Nevada County leaders to lobby again for Bridgeport Bridge

Keri Brenner
Staff Writer

Nevada County leaders will testify again later this month before Sacramento lawmakers in support of the Bridgeport Bridge Restoration Project.

A delegation led by Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston will lobby for the bridge April 23 before the state Assembly budget subcommittee on resources and transportation.

Specifically, the group will testify on the need to allot $1 million in the state's 2014-15 budget for the project.

The Bridgeport covered bridge, which spans the South Yuba River at South Yuba River State Park, was closed to pedestrian traffic in 2011 after an engineering survey found severe and unsafe structural problems.

The Gold Rush icon is the longest single span wooden covered bridge in the world.

"Should the state emerge from the drought with any significant rainfall, the river that this bridge crosses could rise and damage or even wash away this venerable and historic landmark," said Nevada County Supervisor Chair Nate Beason in an April 10 letter to the state Assembly subcommittee requesting the funding and the hearing. "Time is of the essence in this case."

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This is the second time Nevada County leaders have asked state lawmakers for the money this year.

On March 20, Weston's delegation testified before the corresponding budget subcommittee in the state Senate on the need for the $1 million to complete the restoration.

That Senate subcommittee agreed to make the $1 million available to restore the bridge in the 2014-15 budget cycle.

The request to the two legislative subcommittees is an acceleration of Gov. Jerry Brown's original budget, which proposed $1.2 million over a three-year period to fund the project.

County officials said the money should be allocated in one year, instead of over three years, to get the job done before it's too late.

"This accelerated funding schedule would ensure that funds are available to accomplish the stabilization and restoration process as each phase is completed," said Nevada County Executive Officer Rick Haffey in his weekly memo Friday.

According to Haffey, Weston is working with the following local leaders: Nevada City Council member Robert Bergman; Caleb Dardick, executive director of the South Yuba River Citizens League; Dave Anderson, president of the South Yuba River Park Association; and Alison Lehman, assistant Nevada County executive officer, to strategize and coordinate efforts.

"Each of the participants is reaching out to their stakeholders for letters requesting that the Assembly subcommittee adopt conforming language to mirror the actions of the Senate subcommittee," Haffey said.

The team is also reaching out to friends and contacts in the Legislature to advocate for support of the request, Haffey said.

The lobbying in Sacramento follows a citizens letter-writing campaign earlier this year.

Groups such as Bear Yuba Land Trust, South Yuba River Citizens League and the South Yuba River Parks Association led the campaign, which also focused on accelerating the funding cycle in the governor's budget.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.