County moves forward on Morton Road replacement and helping isolated residents

Published on February 07, 2017

Fueled by an atmospheric river that funneled a vast amount of moisture into Northern California, the severe winter storms that hit last month caused countywide damage. Perhaps the most prominent is the culvert failure and washout of Morton Road in Alta. The incident isolated 15 homes. An alternative access was established, however it traverses a steep, windy gravel road over private property.

Today, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved two measures giving both short- and long-term assistance to the isolated community.

The first measure authorized payment for emergency construction and road improvements to the detour. These were done immediately after the Morton Road failure to provide residents with an alternative route to enter and leave their neighborhood. This funding was used to stabilize embankments to prevent road failure of the alternative route and improve the dirt road to ensure that residents and emergency vehicles have some access.

When the roadway washed out in January, the county quickly moved to construct the detour improvements. In addition, a snow removal contract with a private party was signed to ensure the alternative route remains open through the winter. Currently, the emergency access limits the size of emergency and service vehicles, garbage trucks, and propane trucks that serve the community and is less than ideal for daily access, especially during winter.

The second measure will allow the county department to advertise for construction bids for a repair to the washout, reestablishing suitable access to the isolated community. Quick repair to the Morton Road crossing over Canyon Creek is essential to restore permanent access to this community.

The county has also contracted for geotechnical engineering and hydraulic engineering services to design an appropriate repair in the quickest and most cost effective manner.

As a permanent fix, the county intends to build a bridge over the washed out roadway. Public Works evaluated several alternatives including replacing the culvert and rebuilding the embankment and roadway, installing a temporary bridge and building a permanent bridge. This last alternative was selected as it prevents another road failure in the future. The entire cost of bridge construction is expected to be $3 million.

“We do believe time matters,” said Director of Department of Public Works and Facilities Ken Grehm. “We do want to get it done as soon as possible.”

The bids will be evaluated not only for cost but for how quickly the project can be built. The county will assign a dollar amount to construction days and incorporate that figure into the bid evaluation process. The county expects to put the project out for bid next week and hopes to complete construction by the end of June.