Rebuild or replace?: Nevada County solicits public feedback for Edwards Bridge project |

Rebuild or replace?: Nevada County solicits public feedback for Edwards Bridge project

Edwards Crossing bridge is one of eight bridges slated for renovation or replacement projects in Nevada County. It is the second oldest bridge in the county, built in 1903.
Elias Funez/ |

The second-oldest bridge in Nevada County — at Edwards Crossing on the South Yuba River — is in need of some major work, and the county’s Public Works Department is soliciting feedback from the public on how to proceed.

The one-way bridge on North Bloomfield Road has been deemed structurally deficient, and a federal grant the county received in 2014 will likely pay for its replacement or restoration, according to Joshua Pack, the county’s principal civil engineer. The grant, which set aside upward of 20 million dollars, is set to pay for restoration or replacement projects at eight different bridges throughout the county, Pack said.

The Public Works Department hosted a town hall meeting Aug. 30 to gather comments and concerns from county residents on how to approach the Edwards Crossing bridge project, which is slated for construction in 2020, according to Pack.

At the meeting, Pack said, many residents expressed concerns about the bridge’s inability to carry heavy loads or two-way traffic during the event of a fire or emergency. The bridge currently has a 4-ton load limit, according to Pack.

The federal grant would require a replacement bridge to support two-way traffic, but would also likely fund a restoration as an alternative.

The majority of attendees at the town hall meeting were in favor of a restoration project rather than a replacement due to concerns about the bridge’s historical nature, Pack said. The bridge was originally built in 1904 and was most recently rehabilitated by the county in 1989.

He said the county will continue to solicit public feedback and may soon send out a survey to gather more opinions. He said the project will proceed based on a general consensus from residents.

A restoration project, he said, would involve strengthening the bottom of the bridge — which could increase the load limit by about 20 tons. New decking and a new railing may be added, along with a fresh coat of paint. Pack said casual observers would likely just think the bridge was repainted at the end of the project. The general aesthetic would be largely preserved.

“We’d get a better-functioning bridge, while at the same time we get to preserve its historic nature,” Pack said.

A temporary bridge would be built and installed upstream during the restoration in order to maintain access along North Bloomfield Road, Pack said.

Three bridge restoration projects are currently underway in Nevada County and are being funded by the federal grant. Construction will begin on the other five bridges slated for projects between 2018 and 2021, Pack said. He noted that one bridge project — where Dog Bar Road crosses the Bear River — is on hold until NID makes a decision on whether or not to proceed with building the proposed Centennial Reservoir.

“We don’t want to build a bridge and then have it underwater,” he said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email or call 530-477-4231.

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