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Apr 17

Penryn Road bridge over Secret Ravine moving closer to reality

Posted on April 17, 2019 at 2:50 PM by Christopher Gray Garcia

Jim HolmesIf you travel Penryn Road on a regular basis, particularly during the winter months, you may have had the misfortune of finding floodwaters where the road crosses over Secret Ravine. In March 2018, the Board of Supervisors directed staff to proceed with the Penryn Road at Secret Ravine Repair Project, which included the removal of the existing, failing culvert and the construction of a new bridge. 

This section of roadway has seen sporadic flooding issues for years, but after the culvert sustained damage during a winter storm in 2017, Placer County planned to replace the culvert with a bridge in 2018. Unfortunately, the project suffered a double whammy when the required permits were stalled in several government agencies and the culvert was further damaged during a storm earlier this year. 

After the damage caused by the 2017 storms, county road maintenance crews made repairs to a portion of the roadway and put up signs declaring a 7-ton load limit to help limit traffic that was apt to cause additional damage. Since that time, county road maintenance crews have also placed steel plates over the settled roadway area and installed stop signs and changeable message warning signs to slow traffic on either side of the failed culvert.  Additionally, county road crews, county sheriff’s deputies and the California Highway Patrol regularly monitor the section of roadway over the failed culvert and will close the road if the damage worsens.   

While road maintenance crews have been working to keep the road in a state that allows for safe passage, county engineering staff have been working tirelessly to obtain the permits required to complete the bridge construction project.
Unfortunately, obtaining the permits is not a quick or easy process. Secret Ravine is within the jurisdiction of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and provides critical salmon habitat, which means several agencies must examine the different aspects and impacts of the project before they give the green light for construction. 

Due to the critical salmon habitat, staff was initially delayed during consultation with regulatory agencies, and the process was further delayed as a result of the shutdown of the federal government from mid-December 2018 to mid-January 2019. In all the project requires three separate permits from three different agencies - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Permit and the Regional Water Quality Control Board - and additional review by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  

Although the county has regularly communicated to the regulatory agencies the concern and urgency of the project it was not until the culvert further deteriorated this year that the agencies were able to grant some relief and shorten the timeline. The Army Corps and NOAA were the first agencies to grant a special programmatic clearance for the project and the other agencies followed suit. 

As of today, the majority of the required agency permits have been issued or are very close to being issued; however, the permits do not allow for construction to begin until the summer. In the meantime, staff is working with PG&E, AT&T and WAVE to resolve some utility conflicts and working to obtain rights of entry and right of way from the adjacent property owners. 

The overall cost of the project is anticipated to be $3.6 million, which is being funded by the county Department of Public Works. Please stay tuned for additional information on this project, including information on road closures and detours during construction this summer. This has been a trying situation for residents who travel this stretch of Penryn Road. Bringing this project to fruition has been a long and often difficult process, but I am pleased with the work of our road maintenance crews and our engineering staff to see this project through. 

As always, I am happy to discuss any District 3 or Placer County issues with you. I can be reached at 530-889-4010. For specific questions regarding this project please contact Matt Randall, senior civil engineer with the Department of Public Works, at 530-745-3564.

Jim Holmes is the District 3 Supervisor for Placer County. 


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