For Immediate Release
Caltrans and the county reassess Bohemian Highway Bridge Project over Russian River
SANTA ROSA, CA | August 07, 2023
Caltrans has informed the County of Sonoma that it will be unable to fund a full replacement of the dilapidated Bohemian Highway Bridge in Monte Rio, as it is currently planned.
In lieu of a replacement project, Caltrans will be investing approximately $25 million into the current structure to bring the span up to modern seismic safety standards.
“We have spent six years working on this project only to be back at the drawing board with no viable plan to replace our beloved bridge,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, who represents the west county district. “This is an incredibly frustrating situation, and our community deserves better.”
In 2012, Caltrans identified multiple concerns with the bridge, including potential seismic vulnerability, degrading foundations, and inadequate bicycle and pedestrian access. An analysis at the time showed a replacement bridge would cost less than retrofitting the current span that was built in 1934.
However, due to cost and project scope changes, Caltrans informed the county that the Monte Rio Bridge replacement project cost far exceeded the funding available in the bridge replacement program. After the county completed community engagement and finalized the Environmental Impact Report for the bridge replacement, project costs and designs changed and increased over the 10-year process, from approximately $25 million to $88 million.
A new bridge would have a 75-year life expectancy versus a 15-year lifespan for a retrofitted bridge. The report also provided a leave-as-is or “no build” option, but due to the potential for collapse during an earthquake, those options carry an unacceptable risk to safety.
Sonoma County Public Infrastructure will move forward with plans to retrofit the bridge to meet the seismic safety standards as required per its agreement with Caltrans. The seismic safety upgrades will be fully covered by Caltrans and the State of California.
The Bohemian Highway, which the bridge is a part of, is a critical connection for West Sonoma County and the crossing is an essential road for the community. The proposed replacement bridge would have provided several benefits to the local community including a bridge designed to modern seismic standards and walkways brought up to current safety and design standards to improve access for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Monte Rio Bridge replacement project went through an extensive review process including multiple community meetings and more than 700 mailers sent to property owners and local businesses after the conclusion of the environmental impact report. The aesthetic design, which features a steel-tied arch bridge with overlooks and was decided by participants in community meetings, would serve as a community focal point and as an attractive destination for visitors.
The county will continue to work with Caltrans to identify alternative funding options for a full bridge replacement.
For more information on the Monte Rio Bridge replacement, including a Frequently Asked Questions flier, visit the Sonoma County Public Infrastructure webpage.