While traffic has been switched onto the new Simmerly Slough Bridge, the project still has some work left to do, according to Caltrans District 3 Project Manager Cameron Knudson.
The $83.6 million bridge replacement project has been ongoing since September 2019 along Highway 70 north of Marysville. The old bridge no longer met current design and seismic safety standards. The new bridge will accommodate five lanes in the future, provide eight-foot paved shoulders, a six-foot sidewalk and a 12-foot wide center median that will act as a left-turn pocket.
“The 55-hour closure that was done to switch traffic on the new bridge went very well,” Knudson said. “The contractor was able to complete the work required for this traffic switch over earlier than scheduled.”
Paving and roadway connections still need to be completed and the old bridge still has to be removed, according to Knudson.
Caltrans’ design team is currently working on the design and contract development of the Highway 70 Binney Junction Roadway Rehabilitation and Complete Streets Project, which includes widening the highway to five lanes. In addition, the project will replace and lengthen two existing railroad structures, lower the existing Highway 70 under two overpasses, remove existing access to and from 17th Street, relocate an existing levee, signalize two existing intersections and rehabilitate existing pavement.
The estimated $111 million project is fully funded with federal and state dollars and would run from just south of 14th Street to just north of Cemetery Road.
“We are also working on identifying all right of way that will be required for the project, including utilities, and start the right of way acquisition process,” Knudson said.
Right of way acquisition is the process of taking land from the original owner by another party, with legal rights to that property, by providing monetary compensation.
According to Caltrans’ final environmental impact report (EIR), some of the facilities that would be impacted by the project include Eastpark Lake, Marysville High School, Marysville Joint Unified School District, Marysville Youth & Community Center, Yuba-Sutter Transit, Dollar Tree, El Torero Meat & Market & Taqueria, Yanez Custom Wheels and Tires, The Wright Closet, WP Towing, B Street Dental, Ocean Fish and Chips and Korean Food and the Veterans Memorial Center.
The project will acquire one residential, single family residence on the corner of 24th Street and Highway 70 and seven nonresidential properties (five commercial properties, the local transit center and a local community center).
Construction for the project is scheduled to begin in spring 2024 and is estimated to take three years to complete. The project is scheduled to go out for bid in fall 2023.
“There have been crews out working to locate existing utilities within the project limits to help identify any possible utility conflicts that will have to be addressed in preparation for the beginning of construction,” Knudson said.
In January, Marysville sued Caltrans over the agency’s decision to approve the Highway 70 expansion project. The city alleged that Caltrans failed to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), when it approved the project, based on the final EIR and final environmental assessment (EA).
“The city continues to work with Caltrans to try and settle the lawsuit,” Marysville City Manager Jim Schaad said in an email. “Everything is confidential communication at this time.”
Knudson said Caltrans cannot comment about current litigation.
Caltrans is facing another lawsuit from a group of Yuba County residents associated with the Keep 70 Safe Committee, which filed a lawsuit against the agency in August 2020 that alleged Caltrans violated environmental laws in its planning for the Highway 70 continuous passing lanes project.
Pamela Warmack, chair of the Keep 70 Safe Committee, said on Friday that the lawsuit is proceeding and could go to court as early as mid to late summer.
The Highway 70 Safety Improvements Project would be between Laurellen Road and South Honcut Creek Bridge. The project includes among other improvements, widening of road shoulders, a continuous two-way left turn lane, and truck acceleration and deceleration lanes.
Warmack said many of the concerns her group has with this project are addressed in the city’s suit of Caltrans over the Binney Junction project.
“We hope Caltrans will be held accountable according to the state laws set forth for project EIR documents which are in place to protect the health and safety of people and communities,” Warmack said.
The group is concerned that the project would bring an additional 5,000 vehicles a day into and through Marysville causing an increase in air pollution. She said a bypass is needed to get large trucks and through-traffic out of the city.
“We don’t want our businesses to lose customers to other towns due to gridlock,” Warmack said. “We don’t want our neighbors subjected to air and noise pollution, which creates all types of adverse health impacts ... It’s time to stop putting a bandaid on the problem and create the real solution now.”