Ferguson Rock Slide Repair Plan

April 22, 2008 8:59:04 PM PDT
The two year anniversary of the Ferguson rock slide is just one week away, and now Mariposa County may finally have something to celebrate.Tuesday morning Caltrans officials announced plans to replace the temporary bridges that were put in place immediately after the slide on Highway 140 between Mariposa and Yosemite. The bridges were built at angles that prevent vehicles longer than 28 feet from crossing, which means large tour buses now take other routes into the national park.

Rick Benson/Mariposa Co. Administrative Officer: "We have seen since the rock our revenues have gone down 25 percent in sales tax, and that's a real indicator that the business community in general is struggling."

The process to find a permanent solution is taking longer than expected, so now Caltrans wants to quickly build two new single-lane bridges at angles that will allow all vehicles to cross.

Kome Ajise/Caltrans District 10 Director: "What we have is mainly an emergency opening with the understanding it can only be there for a short period and you would have to follow up with a permanent restoration project."

Sara Sandrik/Action News: "Caltrans plans to keep the existing bridges open during most of the work on the new temporary bridges to minimize the impact on traffic. But during some phases of construction, it will have to close the river."

The county's seven whitewater rafting companies say that news raised some red flags.

Jimmy Gado/Zephyr Whitewater: "If they were to shut down the river for the duration of their work, it would basically shut us out of operations for our entire season here."

That's why Caltrans plans to keep the river open during holiday weekends and work with the rafting companies to keep their businesses afloat.

Jimmy Gado: "It sounds like the only closure that's going to happen is when they actually set the bridges in place, and that's something we can live with."

If federal agencies approve the plan, construction could start in a few weeks and be finished before the end of the summer.


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