Bridge only months away from opening

By: Don Chaddock/The Telegraph
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Construction crews added the last major piece Friday to the new bridge in Folsom, connecting both sides of the structure and bringing it that much closer to opening. Folsom Lake Crossing, meant to replace the closed Folsom Dam Bridge, will cost an estimated $134 million by the time it’s completed and open in spring 2009. The center of the 970-foot span was put in place Friday, connecting each side of the bridge. The bridge stands 200 feet above the American River and will link East Natoma Street with Folsom-Auburn Road. Officials believe the new bridge will ease traffic through the heart of town. At a press conference held in the construction area on Friday, Mayor Eric King hailed the bridge as a sign of cooperation between numerous governmental agencies at the state, federal and local levels. “We’re very excited about this,” he said. “This is a major thoroughfare for our region.” City Councilman Jeff Starsky said the bridge has personal meaning for him. “This is a particularly important day for me. I became mayor and they closed the bridge two months later and we had 19,000 cars going through our city,” he said. “It was brutal. … I’ve been part of this since I’ve been on the council. I’ve testified before Congress twice (representing the city) to secure funds.” Starsky said the closure of the dam bridge impacted the city budget, increased traffic through town and drastically increased the number of accidents within the city limits. “The traffic has been an absolute disaster,” Starsky said. Lt. Col. Jim Porter, Deputy District Commander for the US Army Corps of Engineers, said the target opening date will be sometime in spring of next year. “It’s an important milestone,” Porter said. “It brings us one step closer to opening the bridge.” He said the actual opening date is still being worked out but would be announced when they reached a final decision. Starsky stressed the need to open the span earlier rather than later in spring. Councilman Andy Morin said the city was eager to see the bridge in use. “We look forward to a great opening day for this structure,” he said. City Councilmember Kerri Howell said she was proud of what’s been accomplished. “This is the fourth bridge in the city of Folsom and the third we’ve opened since I’ve been on the council,” she said. Starsky and Howell also praised the late Rep. Bob Matsui and his successor Doris Matsui, Rep. Dan Lungren, Rep. John Doolittle and Rep. Doug Ose for their assistance in making the construction of the new bridge possible. By the numbers Opening date: Spring 2009 Bridge spans 970 feet Stands 200 feet above American River Bridge features four traffic lanes as well as a bicycle/pedestrian/equestrian lane Capacity: 40,000 vehicles daily Cost: $134 million Federal funds: $86 million Measure A funds: $37 million Other funds: $14 million* *Includes California Department of Water Resources and Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency.