The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors assumed control of the Watmaugh Bridge project, likely a replacement of the current span, with a unanimous vote Tuesday.
At the request of Supervisor Valerie Brown, the board took “original jurisdiction” over the environmental review in order to expedite the process to ensure that the county does not lose funding for the project.
The Environmental Impact Report would normally be reviewed and considered by the Sonoma County Planning Commission.
County officials report that the piers supporting the span are dangerously eroded, making the bridge susceptible to collapse during an earthquake or major flood.
The steel truss bridge has been on the Caltrans list of deficient bridges since the early 1990s, but funding was not available until July of 2009. A staff report said the project has already been subject to extensive review by the Sonoma County Landmarks Commission, and “delay could jeopardize the continued availability of the federal funding.”
Last month, Supervisors awarded a $500,000 design contract to get the project moving. Though a retrofit of the 1929 steel truss bridge will be studied, the board is on record favoring a replacement. Supervisor Valerie Brown said that a new bridge, because it would receive state funding, is the only viable option.