Placer supes OK $65 million in Foresthill Bridge contracts

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County’s Foresthill Bridge will be repainted and earthquake-proofed by a Martinez bridge construction company. Golden State Bridge Inc. submitted the lowest of five bids received by the county. The Board of Supervisors approved a $58.4 million contract Tuesday for what is anticipated to be a three-year job. Peter Kraatz, county public works deputy director, told supervisors before the 5-0 vote that work should start this spring on the fourth highest bridge in the nation. At 730 feet above the North Fork of the American River, the 36-year-old bridge was the third highest in the nation until this past year’s completion of a new Hoover Dam bridge in Arizona. Kraatz said the Golden State Bridge bid was 10 percent less than pre-bid estimates. Work will focus on seismically retrofitting the bridge to today’s standards and re-painting a span that has retained its original green paintjob for almost four decades . Public Works Director Ken Grehm said in a prior interview that there are no plans to change the color of the bridge. Golden State was the principal contractor for a similar restoration-repainting project on Sacramento’s Tower Bridge. In that case, Sacramento County made a public request for possible changes in the gold color of the bridge but eventually settled on retaining the original hue. Eric Peach, a Protect American River Canyons board member, voiced his concerns about plans to raise the bridge’s pedestrian railing from 4 feet to 6½ feet rather than the initial 8 feet. Caltrans convinced bridge planners this spring to drop the railing height to 6½ feet to allow an electric arm on its “snooper” bridge inspection vehicle to reach over the rail. Peach said that because of the potential for more suicide jumpers and continuing debris dumping, Caltrans should be convinced to add an extension to its snooper arm to allow it to reach over an 3-foot-high railing. About 60 people have jumped to their deaths off the bridge. Peach added that the county should also consider railing that curves inward at the top to further discourage jumpers or debris throwing. Supervisors didn’t respond to Peach’s suggestion to have staff work with him on finding a way to install higher, curved railing. Work on the bridge will include removing and replacing some structural steel elements, installing new concrete decking and constructing a new catwalk system. The board also approved a $6.89 million contract with The Hanna Group for construction management, inspection and materials testing on the bridge project. Funding is coming from federal and state highway and bridge seismic retrofit coffers. In other board business: - Supervisors presented proclamations to retiring District Attorney Brad Fenocchio, Library Services Director Mark Parker and Public Information Officer Anita Yoder. Fenocchio, county district attorney for 16 years, thanked the employees in his office for their “talent, courage and dedication.” - Supervisors awarded commemorative coins to people in their districts recognized for acts of heroism, longstanding community service or exceptional acts that have dramatically improved or had an impact on people’s lives. Recipients included 10-year-old Auburn Elementary School student Taylor Starks for saving her grandmother’s life, longtime Auburn-area alternative education champion Linda Durham and the late Victor Dew, a Marine from Granite Bay who was killed in Afghanistan combat operations this fall. - Supervisors accepted a revised plan from developers of the 12.7-acre Enclave at Granite Bay to reduce the number of lots from 26 to 13, ending a long-simmering confrontation between nearby residents over what would have been a change to the Granite Bay Community Plan. - Marked Supervisor Rocky Rockholm’s last meeting with a PowerPoint presentation touching on the highlights of his four-year term with the board. Rockholm lost a bid for re-election and will make way in the new year to new Roseville supervisor Jack Duran. “There are worse tragedies than me not getting re-elected,” Rockholm said.