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Nevada County looks to improve 3 bridges

Peter Werbel of Truckee and Janet Phillips president of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway at the Nevada County administration building Tuesday October 14.
Keri Brenner/kbrenner@theunion.com | The Union

Two aging bridges in Eastern Nevada County will get seismic makeovers and a third bridge will either be replaced or left alone — depending on decisions by Nevada County Board of Supervisors.

“We are just thrilled,” said Janet Phillips, president of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway, after supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday on plans that would clear the way for access for the bikeway to two bridges in Hirschdale, east of Truckee.

The vote by supervisors cancels plans to remove the two bridges — one over the Truckee River and the other over Union Pacific Railroad tracks.



The county had included an alternative highway route circumnavigating Hirschdale in its Department of Public Works capital improvement plan, but Tuesday’s vote took it off the list. Instead, the county will do studies on potential seismic retrofits on both spans.

“This may in fact be the lowest cost alternative with the greatest benefit.”
Richard Anderson
Nevada county Supervisor

Phillips said the decision means continued trail access for the 117-mile bikeway along the Truckee River. About 75 percent of the bikeway is now complete and open, she said, and Hirschdale would have been an important missing link.




“If the bridges were removed, it would create a very dangerous access for fishermen, cyclists and other people who use the river,” she said.

Nevada County Supervisor Richard Anderson, whose district includes all three bridges, said the change in plans for the two Hirschdale bridges was triggered by the progress in creating the bikeway and by public support.

“We had more than 70 community responses to the mitigated negative declaration (for the Hirschdale project),” he said. “Most of them wanted to keep the bridges.”

He said the seismic retrofit should have been included from the start, but at the time, the bikeway project was not realized.

Some property owners near the Hirschdale bridges, however, said they wanted assurances that bicyclists would not use their land for parking cars or dumping trash.

Phillips said the bikeway partners and volunteers are, and will be, diligent in monitoring trash and making sure bicyclists are considerate.

“The proposed bike lane is a extraordinary concept,” Anderson said. “It’s a quality of life improvement that can also help with marketing the area.

“This may in fact be the lowest cost alternative with the greatest benefit,” he added.

Supervisors voted unanimously to send “Notices of Intent” to property owners around a third bridge on Maybert Road near the town of Washington.

The “Notices of Intent” will alert property owners about a hearing at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 18 on a “Resolution of Necessity” to possibly condemn land to build a replacement bridge for the circa-1886 span over Canyon Creek. County staff members, who have secured federal funds for the replacement bridge, said they tried to purchase the land but were rejected by property owners.

The hearing on Nov. 18 will be at the supervisors chambers in the county’s Rood Building, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City.

At Tuesday’s meeting, locals said they don’t want their Maybert Road bridge, which currently cannot support a heavy truck or fire engine, replaced. They said a new, wider bridge without load weight restrictions would attract more traffic and more unwanted recreational visitors. They said they would like to preserve the lack of access.

“Right now, the bridge is a bottleneck to any kind of changes upriver,” said Mike Stewart, whose family has owned property near the bridge since 1961. Stewart said lifting the weight limits on the bridge, originally a stagecoach route to Virginia City, would cause “more traffic, and more fire danger.”

Stewart, a firefighter, told supervisors that any fires in the canyon have to be fought by hand or by air, due to the topography.

“A dozer can’t get in there,” he said. “It’s all bedrock, and steep.”

Stewart’s mother, Judi Stewart, who has lived in the area for 45 years, said she’s already seeing more graffiti and trash.

“Our families have been here a long time, and we’re not looking for change,” she said. “We bought the land for solitude, not subdivisions.”

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


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