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Year in review: Woodside focuses on infrastructure

 

The quality of Woodside's infrastructure -- its bridges and storm drains -- were among the top concerns of 2014.

Residents and drivers passing through can be forgiven for not sensing anything wrong when crossing bridges on Mountain Home and Kings Mountain roads. The bridges across Bear Gulch Creek and Union Creek are working well, and are expected to continue to do so.

But they're 100 years old. The state Department of Transportation in 2012 labeled them "functionally obsolete." Later, the town commissioned a $190,000 engineering study of these bridges plus two others: on Old La Honda Road near Dennis Martin Creek and Portola Road across Alimbique Creek. The study, published in late 2014, showed that the Kings Mountain and Mountain Home road bridges have structural deficiencies.

Since both bridges are appreciated for their aesthetics and eligible to be designated as historically significant, the Town Council decided to rehabilitate them rather than replace them. The bridges will have curved structural steel plates installed under their arches, fixes that should add at least 50 years to their lives, Town Hall staff say.

Replacement rather than rehabilitation is probably ahead for the other two bridges. While neither has potential for historic significance at the state level, the Old La Honda Road bridge has local significance. Alongside it are artificial boulders covered with moss, an artificial grotto underneath and moss-covered side rails. The town is looking carefully at preserving the artificial accents and considering salvaging, restoring or recreating the mossy side rails.

With a replacement bridge, "we want to recreate how you currently enter the neighborhood," Town Engineer Paul Nagengast told the Almanac. "That's what we don't want to lose."

The estimated cost for all four bridges is around $3.8 million. The town is seeking federal assistance with funding, but it may have to look to its own wallet. The council is planning to hold an infrastructure study session if funding assistance is not forthcoming.

Maybe next year

Woodside's influence has limits. A request for state funding for a key part of the town's Safe Routes to School program did not make the cut earlier this year. "It's very challenging out there," Town Engineer Paul Nagengast told the Almanac.

Staff had applied for $855,000 to put a horse-compatible surfaced path along the south side of Woodside Road between the elementary school and the parking lot at Roberts market. There is an existing path, but it meanders unpleasantly near the road and is bumpy and inconsistent.

The plan was to create a smooth route connecting to other routes to school, to put distance between pedestrians and equestrians and vehicle traffic, and to add four new crosswalks on the school campus and one across Woodside Road in the vicinity of the wooden-fish sculpture next to Dry Creek.

The state offered communities $129 million in grant money from the Caltrans Active Transportation Program. Among the program's goals: encourage biking and walking, reduce greenhouse gases, enhance public health, and put disadvantaged communities on an equal footing for the money. Communities from all over the state were competing for a piece of it.

Storm drains

The town spent $3 million over five years on road maintenance, according to the town's budget for 2013-15. In that same budget is $50,000 to map a repair and replacement strategy for the storm drain system, and an expectation of spending at least $100,000 a year for five years to rehabilitate the system.

Costs may increase once the analysis is complete, so the $100,000 annual allocations are placeholders, Town Manager Kevin Bryant has said.

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