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Caltrans holds Nov. 5 open house on St. Helena bridge work

Caltrans holds Nov. 5 open house on St. Helena bridge work

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Caltrans has scheduled an open house and scoping meeting to discuss an upcoming project affecting two historic Main Street bridges.

The agency will discuss its plans to replace the barrier rails along the Sulphur Creek Bridge and the York Creek Bridge at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at Grace Episcopal Church, 1314 Spring St. in St. Helena.

Caltrans proposes to replace the rails on both stone bridges to meet current safety standards. Construction is scheduled for summer 2024, with an estimated cost of $4.1 million.

The project is in the environmental phase, and Caltrans is evaluating alternatives in an effort to avoid adversely affecting the environmental resources in the area.

Both bridges are on Highway 29, also known as St. Helena’s Main Street. The Sulphur Creek Bridge is north of Gott’s. The York Creek Bridge is south of the elm tunnel.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Caltrans Project Manager Ahmad Rahimi briefed the council on the project.

He said Caltrans is evaluating two alternatives for the Sulphur Creek Bridge. One would require closing one lane of traffic during construction, which would take two or three months. The other would involve widening the bridge and would allow both lanes to stay open. Rahimi said the second option is preferred.

The only alternative being considered for the York Creek Bridge would allow both lanes of traffic to stay open during construction.

The work will require replacing the existing stone railings on both bridges, but the new railings will mimic the look of the old stones and Caltrans will work with the city to preserve the old ones elsewhere, Rahimi said. The bridges will retain their vintage light poles and plaques.

City Councilmember David Knudsen said the project will be “pretty sensitive” and needs to keep in mind the “look and feel” of both bridges.

“I’m concerned that these things which so define the character of town could be really swept away,” he said.

More information about the project will be available at dot.ca.gov/caltrans-near-me/district-4. Comments on the project may be submitted through Nov. 20 to Nathan Roberts, Associate Environmental Planner, P.O. Box 23660, Office of Environmental Analysis, MS-8B, Oakland, CA 94623-0660, (510) 286-6303 or Nathan.Roberts@dot.ca.gov.

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