As Caltrans prepares to formally celebrate the next phase of the East Sonora Bypass, state transportation officials are reminding the public not to remove wood from the worksite.
According to Caltrans spokeswoman Angela DePrato, Caltrans has been regularly dealing with members of the public trying to take wood from downed trees along the state right-of-way. DePrato said last week that all the wood from the trees is property of the contractor, Teichert/MCM Construction, and is not available for the public to take.
She said Caltrans crews have been regularly fending off people who have tried to cut and take wood from the site, and who have said that they understood they are allowed to take it.
So far, the department has not pursued any criminal charges.
“Caltrans employees are trying to regulate it and keep a watchful eye on it because I think there’s a misconception that people can take it,” DaPrato said. “Caltrans is not an enforcement agency.”
The department started felling some trees on April 19 as part of the second phase of the project, which will install a Highway 108 thoroughfare for about two miles from Peaceful Oak Road, where the first phase ended, to Via Este. Crews took down dozens of trees as well in February as part of the latest phase.
Caltrans and local officials will gather at noon Tuesday to celebrate the $23 million phase of the $53 million bypass project during a special ceremony. The ceremony will take place at 19596 Mono Way.
The three-phase, multi-year bypass project will include construction of two bridges and installation of a signal light. Eventually, the full bypass is expected to run from Sanguinetti Road in Sonora to the four-lane stretch at Twain Harte Drive.
The state and the Tuolumne County Transportation Council have been working together to plan and secure funds for the project.
Funding will come from the state Corridor Mobility Improvement Account created by Proposition 1B in 2006 and the state Transportation Improvement Program, the state’s main road funding mechanism.