Bridge-raising project still under fire

10-day timeline at Horseshoe Bar not fast enough for Loomis
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Caltrans officials said Horseshoe Bar Road may be closed for as little as 10 days during bridge raising, which Loomis Fire says is still too long. Bridge closures of up to 60 days are slated during the raising of other local bridge, including Brace, King, Penryn and Galardi roads, across Interstate 80. Construction is slated to occur from spring 2013 to winter of 2014. Caltrans said local bridge closures would be staggered. At a town council workshop on Aug. 25, Doug Lange, project manager, said Caltrans may consider using more expensive, fast-curing cement when raising the Horseshoe Bar overpass on Interstate 80, along with a 24-hour construction schedule. He said Caltrans is conducting a value analysis study and still needs to determine the cost feasibility. Lange said Caltrans has looked at expedited 10-, 16- and 21-day closure schedules that would require construction crews to work double shifts around the clock, seven days a week. But the Loomis Fire Protection District wants more. “Tripling our response time to the other side of the freeway is not acceptable to us,” said Dave Wheeler, chief of the Loomis Fire District. Wheeler is asking Caltrans to pay for the costs for Loomis Fire to staff and have emergency vehicles and equipment available on the opposite side of the freeway, since the bridge closure cuts the Loomis fire district in two. Wheeler also said the closures will cause problems with the computer dispatch of emergency responders. Wheeler said that a similar situation occurred in San Lorenzo and “Caltrans found funds to double-staff both sides of the closure. There has been some precedence.” Nine area bridges from Loomis to Colfax will experience bridge-related construction. The bridge at Newcastle Road will not be closed because, since Caltrans can’t touch the nearby railroad bridge, they will instead lower the road beneath both bridges. Lange repeatedly said during the workshop that Caltrans would address the concerns of public safety officials by “providing detours.” Both councilmen Miguel Ucovich and Walt Scherer called this unacceptable. “I’m really concerned about public safety. We’re morally bound to look at this issue and Caltrans should be morally bound – if people were to die during the closure because they couldn’t be helped in time,” Ucovich said. “You can’t jeopardize the public safety of Loomis residents. Caltrans would certainly agree if their family members were living there,” Scherer said. Mayor Gary Liss said issues raised by the fire district and public safety officials are “critically important” and “10 days is paramount to us.”