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New bridge in place after going airborne at Placer County park

Crane lifts 28-ton metal span into place over Hidden Falls Regional Park creek
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A key component in the expansion of Hidden Falls Regional Park between Lincoln and Auburn is now in place. A crane was used Friday by contractor Westcon Construction Corp. of Newcastle to lift a 28-ton steel bridge over Coon Creek and fit it snugly into a concrete-block foundation on both sides of the stream. The bridge will help provide a public-safety and trail-transportation link inside an expanded area of the park that will start welcoming hikers, runners, cyclists and equestrians next spring. A second bridge over Coon Creek is expected to be fitted into place early this week, Placer County Parks division Administrator John Ramirez said Friday. Work is also taking place to complete expansion of the Hidden Falls park trail system and give the pathways time to settle over the winter, Ramirez said. “The opening of the expanded area will probably be in May,” Ramirez said. “We want to get the trails in and settle down the dirt and dust.” The expansion will add an additional 980 acres to the 220 acres of parkland off Mears Road that is now open today. Visitors will have access to 23 more miles of trails and ranch roads to the seven that are now being used. Opened in 2006, Hidden Falls instantly became a popular destination and the expansion has been planned since Placer County was able to purchase adjacent land at about the same time as initial trail development was being completed. “The parking lot pretty much fills up on weekends and many weekdays,” Ramirez said. “We have joggers, cyclists and horses.” Andy Fisher, senior planner with the parks division, said that the bridges were the largest single dollar item in the latest round of park development. The cost for the two spans is $1.48 million. The bridge put in Friday is built about 25 feet above the riverbed and Fisher said that the height was predicated on being above a 100-year flood event along the river. Fisher said that the county’s environmental survey of the property indicates that park visitors will have an opportunity to view a variety of wildlife, including river otter, eagles and bobcats. Contractor on the bridge construction is Newcastle’s Westcon Construction Corp. Keith Kenworthy, project manager, said the second bridge is longer than the one installed Friday, at 118 feet. Work started in the early summer, he said. As a mountain biker himself, Kenworthy said he is constantly fielding questions from fellow cyclists about when the expanded park is opening. Like the others, he can’t wait, he said. “But the park already has a lot to offer cyclists,” Kenworthy said. “The difference is that while we’re limited now, people will be able to take two-hour trail rides this coming spring – maybe even three or four-hour rides.”