The State Highway 49 Bridge over the South Fork American River in Coloma is set to be replaced during construction of a $22 million Caltrans project in partnership with the El Dorado County Transportation Commission. For paddlers, this bridge is one of the few remaining free public access sites to the river. American Whitewater worked through the stakeholder process to insure the state right of way on each side of the new bridge will remain open to the public once complete.
In the meantime, construction for this project will begin on March 8, 2017 and will continue through Spring of 2019. For safety during construction, access to the river at the bridge will be prohibited once the contractor fences off the bridge work zone. Boaters can also expect vehicle traffic delays across the bridge when the Caltrans contractor must use one way reversing traffic. It is the goal of Caltrans to complete the major construction that requires traffic delays before Memorial Day. The expected work schedule will be Monday through Friday 8 am to 6 pm but note that the contractor can work 24/7 to accelerate project completion.
There will also be changes on the water below the bridge. As the project progresses the plan is to have river traffic pass through a river channel underneath the bridge directed by flaggers. Be aware that river traffic may be delayed upstream of the bridge for a short period of time by these flaggers. American Whitewater will be working closely with Caltrans, the El Dorado County River Supervisor and local stakeholders to communicate and monitor exactly how traffic under the bridge will work.
Once complete the new bridge will span the river with no abutments in the water; it will be wider to accommodate vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists; and the public will have access to the river on all four corners of the bridge. For more information go to the project webpage or contact Steve Nelson, Caltrans District 3 Public Information Office, at (530) 741-4566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rendering of new Highway 49 Bridge by Caltrans