More North Bank delays

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer October 30, 2012 11:53 pm

The Pilot / Jane Stebbins A sign expresses at least one person’s frustration with construction on the Brookings river road.
The Pilot / Jane Stebbins A sign expresses at least one person’s frustration with construction on the Brookings river road.
Motorists will have to contend with construction delays for at least another two weeks on two road projects along the North Bank Chetco River Road, one delayed due to unexpected problems discovered when workers got deep into the roadway and the other due to rain.

Work at Joe Hall Creek had an original completion date of today (Oct. 31) and now isn’t expected to be complete until mid-November.

“We had an extensive underground conflict with a water line relocation that was part of the project,” said project manager Petr Lovasik.

“If it had been a normal situation, we would have met the deadline, easy. Now, we’re at the mercy of the weather.”

That road, less than two miles east of Highway 101, was originally supposed to be reduced to one lane of travel for three to four months, beginning in May. Work included replacing a 20-plus-year-old culvert with a bridge to give native fish easier passage to the Chetco River.

The existing box culvert only passes fish during high flow events,” said ODOT representative Dan Latham.

Replacing the culvert with a bridge will open approximately 2.2 miles of habitat for coho salmon, fall Chinook, winter steelhead, cutthroat trout and Pacific lamprey. 

“Right now, it does not meet ODFW fish passage criteria since it only passes fish during high flow events,” Latham said. “The new bridge will allow for fish passage at all life stages over a wide range of flows.”

Bridge construction is essentially complete, with remaining work including putting in a rock base on the approaches and paving. That, however, is weather dependent, and might not start until next week.

“This is in a perfect world when it’s always sunshine,” Latham said. “There’s not much sunshine today in Brookings.”

Latham said he has no idea if the delay will add to the $1.2 million cost of the project. And he empathizes with those who use the road daily. A sign posted at a curve near the bridge last weekend read, “How do you like your $2 million bridge now?”

“We understand,” Latham said. “It was supposed to be done in September, and here we are in October. We’d like to be done, too.”

Farther upstream, everything but paving is complete on a culvert replacement project that detoured drivers 30 minutes onto Forest Service roads for most of the summer. It opened Oct. 10 as a gravel road.

Remaining work includes paving the 200-foot-long stretch of road, and that, said U.S. Forest Service road manager Paul Podesto, depends on the weather.

“We were planning on paving it just before that, but we had heavy rain, then continuous rain,” he said. “It hasn’t dried out to allow us to pave. We can’t pave on saturated soils. We’re waiting for a break in the weather.”

Once that break arrives, workers will need two to three days for the roadway to dry, then another half-day to pave it.

That project, called the Big Redwood Creek, is 13 miles up the North Bank Chetco River Road, just past Redwood Bar. Hambone Construction of Redding, Calif., began work there July 16.

The $650,000 project was delayed because a contractor needed to bring in specialized equipment for repairs to a culvert that had outlived its service life. The culvert was originally installed in the late 1950s; the new culvert will be able to handle a 100-year flood and improve fish passage in Big Redwood Creek.

Construction affected access to the South Fork Campground, Packers Cabin, Vulcan Lake, Wilderness Retreat and some trailheads leading into the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Drivers were diverted to Forest Service Road 1107 and 1107580.