Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mosquito Bridge replacement studied


THE CURRENT MOSQUITO BRIDGE dates back to 1939. Studies are under way to replace it with a two-lane bridge. Democrat photo by Krysten kellum

From page A1 | January 23, 2013 | 10 Comments

Residents who use Mosquito Road are more than familiar with the old bridge that crosses the South Fork American River a few miles northeast of Placerville. It’s been there a long, long time.

Now, the Transportation Division of the El Dorado County Community Development Agency is beginning the process of looking into replacing the Mosquito Bridge. The department is hosting a public workshop Saturday Jan. 26 to gather information regarding issues and concerns folks may have about the bridge.

The workshop is from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Mosquito Fire Protection District Station 75, 8801 Rock Creek Road, Placerville.

In a prepared statement, Anne Novotny from DOT noted that the new project is an “update” of a Mosquito Road Bridge Replacement Study completed in 1993. Described as the “initial public scoping meeting,” the event will start with an “Open house followed with a brief presentation by county staff,” according to the statement.

The concept and meaning of “scoping” has become the process by which public entities gather information and “input” from communities or “stakeholders” likely to be affected by some proposed action. Typically, the comments received will become part of a future document that may represent a draft of the proposal in question.

“Within a few weeks after the workshop, information presented at the workshop, public comments received and information about the Mosquito Road Bridge Replacement Study will be posted on the county Website,,” the statement notes.

The process will include alternatives that were identified in the original 1993 study as well as newly proposed alternatives and suggestions and an assessment of their relative feasibility. Public comment and input regarding selection of alternatives and preferred alternatives will be considered throughout the process, the department assures.

The “final updated study” will include recommendations for at least one “preferred alternative,” the document explains.

Work on the bridge comes under the auspices of the Federal Highway Administration and Highway Bridge Program which funds projects related to safety only, according to Matt Smeltzer, deputy director with the Transportation Division. Because the grant is only related to safety, Smeltzer pointed out that the funding could not be used to expand the number of lanes or to add other accoutrements.

“That (1993) study and the current study process consider a two-lane bridge with minimal shoulder widths and necessary safety rail,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Mountain Democrat Thursday. “The type of structure will be dependent on alignment, spans, environmental considerations, aesthetics, constructability and a value analysis.”

The current one-lane suspension bridge was built in 1939 although it has been overhauled, refurbished, replanked and repainted more than once since then following floods, avalanches and smackdowns from too-heavy logging trucks. The river crossing however was first bridged in 1867, according to the county’s historical records.

County DOT’s Capital Improvement Program, approved last year by the Board of Supervisors, shows an estimated cost of $30 million for the Mosquito Bridge project, however, Smeltzer described that figure as “very preliminary.” He further noted that the estimate was required as part of the county’s application for grant funding.
“When we applied for the grant in 2010 we looked at the construction estimates on the alternatives studied in the 1993 report,” Smeltzer wrote. “We inflated these costs to 2010 prices and found these alternatives could range from $4 million to $28 million. We assumed a bridge in a mid-upper range with an approximate construction cost of $20 million for potential future grant budget purposes for now.”
Actual construction or remodeling of the bridge is far beyond the “shovel ready” horizon.
“The grant is only funding a planning study at this time. We will not know cost or be requesting any design or construction funds until we are through the planning and environmental process and have a better idea of what the project will consist of,” Smeltzer said.
“It is very important for everyone to understand that this is a safety improvement project and we are only in a planning study phase at this time and starting out by providing the public with information and getting their input.”
For additional information, contact or call 530-621-5931.

Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or Follow @CDaleyMtDemo. 


Discussion | 10 comments

  • chrispytahoeJanuary 23, 2013 - 9:47 am

    Interesting. It would be cool if we could keep the old bridge and construct a modern suspension bridge over the whole canyon. Wishfull thinking I know, but we would benifit from 2 tourist draws...And Harvo! Quit tailgaiting me on Mosquito Road you Cur.

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  • James SmithJanuary 23, 2013 - 10:19 am

    $30 Million DOT insane? To build a two lane bridge that leads to a one lane road on each side?

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  • James SmithJanuary 23, 2013 - 10:33 am

    This bridge is historic and shouldn't be replaced. Original built in 1867, rebuilt in 1939.

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  • MosquitoMackJanuary 23, 2013 - 11:20 am

    In regards to other comment, the article stated "replacing the bridge" not tearing the old one down. Replace means - 'to take the place of or substitute for somebody or something'. So a new bridge would be a substitute. It is ALL TOO IMPORTANT that residents in the Mosquito / Swansboro areas have good traffic routes to use in the event of a disaster or other emergency. A new bridge will help that. Comments such as "To build a two lane bridge that leads to a one lane road on each side?" is absurd. Look to the future when funds may be available for Mosquito Rd projects. Right now this area needs a safer, better, more reliable way to cross the river. Especially if it is for an ambulance or additional fire fighting equipment. We are no longer in the 19th century so get with the times. Besides I won't miss driving Rock Creek Road every year for 2 or 3 weeks while DOT closes the old bridge for annual maintenance, nor will I miss waiting to cross the bridge due to the backup of traffic that occurs.

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  • James SmithJanuary 23, 2013 - 11:24 am

    If you don't like driving the old bridge or Rock Creek Rd, you shouldn't have moved out there. I've been driving it since the 60's and love it.

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  • J.McNabbJanuary 23, 2013 - 4:15 pm

    Back in the day up in Oroville, they bypassed the green bridge but kept it as part of a scenic hiking, biking, trail, just one option.

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  • EvelynJanuary 24, 2013 - 10:52 am

    Transportation is a key component of centralized planning. $30 million for the Mosquito Bridge project? Just think how $30 million could benefit our badly deteriorating local roads. Very likely the bridge replacement project relates to someone's "vision" that the public hasn't been informed about. All shall be revealed -- in time.

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  • DexJanuary 25, 2013 - 10:33 pm

    Either the bridge needs to be replaced for safety reasons, or it doesn't. Only qualified engineers can make that call. It really shouldn't be up for public debate.

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  • EvelynJanuary 26, 2013 - 9:09 am

    Dex: True that engineering issues are for the engineers. And perhaps $30M will be required to resolve those issues. However, it's always worth asking the WHY and WHO questions. "Why now?" may be totally explicable. "Who are the beneficiaries?" may require a title deed search.

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  • Ken FFebruary 25, 2013 - 8:04 am

    $30 million is a drop in the bucket in today's construction costs. (Yes - I know it is a lot to us little people). Any option needs to not only replace current unsafe bridge (not remove it) and also bypass those switch backs on both sides of the bridge which are also unsafe. A high suspension bridge could do both.

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