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Cost of bridge work soars

PUBLIC MEETING: Tuolumne County Board of Suoervisors, Tuesday, 9 a.m., 2 S. Green St., fourth floor, Sonora. 

Tuolumne County leaders appear to be regrouping on an emergency project to bolster a bridge in the Rim Fire burn zone after the price of the project took a significant jump.

The county Community Resources Agency was finishing up a contract with contractor Sierra Mountain to replace the Ackerson Creek bridge on Evergreen Road for $388,150, according to the CRA. 


The county Board of Supervisors will receive an update on the bridge project Tuesday during its first meeting of December.

According to meeting documents, the county sought last-minute proposals for the bridge reconstruction after learning that initial contractor Ford Construction Co.’s price tag for the job jumped from the initial $145,000 estimate to $536,775. 

The board on Nov. 18 authorized the Tuolumne County Office of Administration to take whatever action was needed to move forward on the repairs, and the county’s engineering staff opted to find new bids over a 48-hour period.

“At this time, the same emergency situation exists with the potential loss of a portion of Evergreen Road if the Ackerson Creek crossing is not replaced as soon as possible,” a memo from the CRA to the board stated.

The project involves replacing a culvert below the bridge in anticipation of increased water flows in the creek. County leaders have said the work must be completed before the rainy season is well underway to prevent a washout at the bridge. 

County and federal government officials have been assessing public infrastructure in the burn area in the wake of the Rim Fire, which scorched about 257,000 acres of hilly forest land.

Scientists and engineers are concerned the lack of vegetation will lead to erosion and higher-than-normal water runoff into creeks and rivers. 

County engineers found that the water capacity of the culvert that runs under the Ackerson Creek Bridge is far less than the volumes expected this winter and spring.

Evergreen Road — between Groveland and Camp Mather — connects residents to parts of the forest, Yosemite National Park and Hetch Hetchy. Because it gives access to vital infrastructure like the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric system, the Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission have promised to finance the repair costs.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

• A new contract with members of the Tuolumne County Deputy Sheriff’s Association that would last through 2015 and include a 5 percent cost-of-living increase for miscellaneous members and a 6.5 percent increase for deputies when the contract is approved. Deputies would receive an additional half-percent increase in July 2014. Also included would be an overtime policy giving the sheriff more flexibility on shifts to reduce overtime costs.

• A possible lease agreement for the armory building at the Columbia Airport.

• A third-quarter update on the 2013 Board of Supervisors goals for 2013.

• A proposal to add language to the county’s Ordinance Code dealing with directional signs, encroachment permit fees, banners and roadside advertisements.

• A workshop looking at a five-year plan for the county.

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