Yuba-Sutter river access proponent questions Caltrans
An advocate for expanded access to rivers in Yuba-Sutter says a new report by Caltrans studying the issue is itself a barrier to access.
The study, which Caltrans is required by state law to do in conjunction with adding a second bridge on Highway 99 over the Feather River near Nicolaus, blithely dismisses opportunities where people can find their way to the river, said Frank Coats, a Yuba City resident.
"These are the can-do-it people of California, and it's incredible they can't figure out how to get pedestrian access to the river," Coats said. "It's simply not a feasibility study."
In the report, which is in its public comment period, Caltrans examines the area around where Highway 99 and the river intersect, and concludes establishing a way for people to walk to the river either would require more right-of-way access, would have compliance problems under the Americans with Disabilities Act or would cost money Caltrans that doesn't have.
But Coats said the report ignores the fact Reclamation District 1001, which manages levees in the area, has allowed people to walk on the top of the levee and use levee slope roads to get to the Feather River.
As well, it would be a simple matter for many people to walk on the bridge — as allowed by Caltrans — and hop a railing to access the levee road, he said.
"Reclamation District 1001 doesn't put up any 'no trespassing' signs on the levee road," he said.
The report quotes the district's general manager as saying enforcement of trespassing problems is impractical and public access is thus allowed.
And because the report also makes reference to a proposed boat ramp/access area by the state Department of Fish and Game, Coats said, Caltrans should have discussed in more detail how such a project could come about.
Coats, who has also tussled with Levee District 1 directors and officials over river access, said he hopes a better, more complete report would provide a useful road map for access to be established.
Caltrans spokesman Gilbert Mohtes-Chan said the department will wait until the comment period ends July 13 before responding.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.