The most common way to access a river is where a public road crosses it. Paddlers often find themselves squeezing down the narrow easement that typically exists between a bridge and private land. It turns out that in California, the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is required to fully consider and report on whether it is feasible to provide public river access when they build a new state highway bridge over a river (see California Streets and Highways Code section 84.5; similar provisions apply to bridges connected to county highways (§ 991) and city streets (§ 1809)). These under-utilized sections of the California Streets and Highway Code provide a great opportunity for paddlers to get involved in the public process and open up more public access to rivers throughout the state.
Letter to Caltrans requesting public hearing on 84.5 Access Feasibility Report for the SR 99 Bridge over the Feather River.