A long-awaited moment is at hand. Local government officials, state and federal representatives, and interested parties gathered under a canopy in a steady rain at Beckwourth Riverfront Park in Marysville on Monday to kick off construction of a new bridge across the Feather River between Yuba and Sutter counties.
The groundbreaking was hosted by the City of Yuba City, which is administering a $70 million construction contract to build a four-lane replacement for the existing two-lane Fifth Street Bridge, which has been declared obsolete. Yuba City’s Public Works Department received high praise from all parties for bringing the project to fruition.
The new bridge will be built just north of the existing bridge, and will tie into the existing bridge entrances on each side of the river.
Representatives of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments were also in attendance. SACOG played a key role in finding funding for the bridge.
Board Chairman Dan Flores represented Sutter County at the groundbreaking. He said the bridge is a result of collaboration between the cities and counties. Additional collaboration, he said, will lead to more public works projects.
Rideout Health Chief Executive Officer Gino Patricio said the new bridge will save lives because it will reduce the time to get patients from Sutter County to the region’s only Emergency Department at Rideout Regional Medical Center.
Yuba City Councilman John Buckland gave a good historical overview. He pointed out the first bridge across Feather River was built in 1853. It finally collapsed in summer of 1861. He said “Sutter County placed a toll on the bridge” that replaced it, and he left the matter at that.
Left unsaid is that Sutter County built the replacement bridge at a cost of $37,000, after acquiring State Legislation to proceed, and after winning a lawsuit by a private bridge company claiming it was unconstitutional for the County to build a bridge and charge a toll. The bridge was paid off in 1871, and the County dropped the toll as soon as the debt was settled.
Sutter County’s bridge was well-built. A private company tried to compete by hastily erecting a bridge 500 feet from the one the County was building, but within weeks the great flood of 1861-62 took out the competitor’s bridge. Sutter County’s bridge stood for several decades.
The existing bridge opened in 1958, after the previous bridge was washed away in the 1955 flood.