Supervisors Award Toro Creek Bridge Contract

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

March 26, 2023

County Supervisors have awarded a contract to design a new bridge spanning Toro Creek on the eastern portion of the roadway just off Hwy 41.

On Feb. 28, Supervisors voted to award a $414,600 contract to Mark Thomas & Co., of Irvine Calif., to design the so-called, “Toro Creek Road at Toro Creek Bridge Replacement Project.”

The contract includes a contingency of $41,400 for a total of $456,100 design budget.

“The primary purpose of this bridge replacement project,” reads a report from Dan Van Beveren of County Engineering, “is to improve public safety by replacing the existing bridge on Toro Creek Road with a new bridge that will accommodate a standard roadway width and will adjust the current roadway alignment.”

The existing bridge, which is about 2.7-miles down Toro Creek Road off Hwy 41 (near the Half Way Station), has rotten timbers and “corrosion at its steel girders. The bridge has been inspected by Caltrans and remains eligible for replacement because it is functionally obsolete, has substandard railings, and exhibits scour issues at both abutments.”

The bridge is one of several on that road that cross Toro Creek, which meanders through the coastal mountains. It’s narrow, with 2-lanes for traffic and room for little else. 

 The new bridge will be 60-feet long with an improved clear deck width between railings wide enough so the lanes of traffic meet modern County and Caltrans standards. 

Toro Creek Road is a somewhat odd path as it runs from Hwy 41 into the hills in a roughly north-west direction until it dead ends on private property. It also heads west from Hwy 1, again winding deep into the mountains where it stops on the other side of the private property, leaving a gap in the middle.

From Hwy 1 the road winds its way through bucolic farmlands and ranches through one of the more rural areas in all of SLO County. From Hwy 41 it winds through heavily forested lands.

Thomas & Company’s scope of work includes selecting the type of bridge to install; designing the bridge including the abutments; designing the roadway direction changes; coordinate with utility companies; analyze the drainage issues; produce construction documents; and permit compliance.

That last one could be troublesome as it is normally difficult to get a permit to work around creeks and streams. Both State and Federal agencies get involved whenever a waterway is affected.

The County will work with Caltrans on the permitting which includes both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements.

The County said it would need permits from the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Thomas & Co., will help the County navigate these agencies.

When Thomas & Co., is done the County will have final construction contract documents to be able to advertise the project for construction bids. Barring any unforeseen delays, construction is expected to occur in 2026.”

The County said this would be a multi-year project with an estimated cost of $3 million to $3.5 million.

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