YOSEMITE LAKES PARK – On Wednesday, May 29, at 11:30 a.m., the residents of Yosemite Lakes Park had reason to celebrate. The bridge near the east entrance to Yosemite Springs Parkway was open for business.
For nearly a year, the bridge has been one lane only, with a stop light requiring motorists to wait up to 3 minutes to cross, though some would swear it took a lot longer.With the traffic lights turned off and covered with plastic, traffic is now moving unimpeded across both lanes of the brand new bridge.
The County put this project on the drawing board some 12 years ago when complaints came in about the deteriorating condition of the bridge spanning Coarsegold Creek, and providing the main access to Highway 41 from YLP.
At a Town Hall meeting in the YLP Clubhouse on Thursday evening, Supervisor Tom Wheeler showed the crowd the rusted, flaky remains of the rebar removed from the old bridge, demonstrating the need for, and the timeliness of the replacement.
According to Johannes Hoevertsz, Madera County Road Commissioner, the project took 2 1/2 times longer than it would have to build the bridge in one piece. But in order to allow traffic to continue to flow through the heavily traveled corridor, they built it one side at a time.
The $1.5 million project faced the usual environmental issues, but they managed to finish on time, says the Road Department. Even when a Black Phoebe moved in and built a nest on the bridge just as they were approaching completion, they were able to adjust the final phases to allow the bird to raise her young and move on.
The project was paid for entirely through state funding. Hoevertsz says the County has been, and plans to continue to replace 2-3 bridges each year.