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Amador County officials, Caltrans Tour Highway 49 Bypass Progress

By Sean Rabé

After nearly 50 years of planning (according to some sources), local officials were able to tour what is arguably the most important transportation project ever constructed in Amador County.

The chief engineer for the Highway 49 Bypass, Mike Honma, led Amador County Transportation Commission members, county supervisors, Caltrans officials and others interested in the project on a three-hour tour of the bypass route. The group, shuttled around the project on a bus, was able to drive on the actual bypass roadbed.

According to a monthly bypass project update report heard at last week´s ACTC meeting, the bypass is approximately 35 percent complete, with 35 percent of the funding spent. Charles Field, ACTC Executive Director, said the bridge over Amador Creek (near Amador City) is mostly finished and the construction company is beginning to work on the Sutter Creek bridge now.

An estimated completion date is October or November 2006, Field added.

The $30-plus million project will be 4 miles long and will consist of a two-lane, limited access highway aimed at skirting Sutter Creek and Amador City from Highway 49 just north of the Ridge Road intersection to about .2 miles south of Rancheria Creek Bridge. The bypass will relocate Valley View Drive´s south end in Sutter Creek at the bypass terminus.

Several key issues are highlighted in the ACTC report in regard to the progress of the bypass. Those issues include if Sutter Ione Road will have a detour while the intersection is being rebuilt and concerns over the impact to the existing road because of heavy trucks hauling dirt from the site.

Field said the road will most likely have one-lane traffic control sometime toward the end of this summer.

As to the damage to the road, Field said the county has issued permits to the trucks hauling dirt from the site.

“The state isn´t responsible for the damage to the road,” he said. “The county must enforce the transportation permits it issued … the trucks on the Sutter Creek side of the road have added to the degradation of Sutter-Ione Road and it is anticipated that section will be rebuilt. We are urging Caltrans that we need to have that section rebuilt by the time the bypass is finished, but Caltrans said we might not be able to rebuild it until a year after.”

Field said the road will be rebuilt using regional traffic mitigation fee funding and city funds.

Other issues highlighted in the ACTC bypass update report include a number of items concerning Valley View Drive. The bypass contractor is proposing to close a portion of the road sometime in July to construct a water line and road connection. A detour to Bowers Drive will be provided.

As for the project´s gateway entrances in Sutter Creek and Amador City, Caltrans is working to protect the historic wall rocks at a temporary storage location so the rocks will be available for use in the gateway projects. Concerns have been expressed by the county and the city of Sutter Creek that people were stealing the rocks. Extra law enforcement patrols have been sent out to protect them as well.

The report also discusses the removal and hauling of excess material from various points along the bypass route and notes that the contractor will haul excess material from the Valley View Drive connection area to the south Sutter Creek bridge abutment.

Reprinted with kind permission from Amador Ledger Dispatch