A different perspective on our ‘ugly little bridge’
I would like to take this opportunity to respond to a few items in the Nov. 30 Index-Tribune article on Watmaugh Bridge (“Supes to hold EIR hearing, vote on Watmaugh Bridge).
I am surprised that you chose to include a whole letter from Greg Rose, who, while expressing his opinion about the Watmaugh Bridge, lacks some information. Firstly, there is no plan to change the alignment of the bridge. It will be widened to allow passage of trucks over 24 tons (a restriction currently in place), however, the road on both approaches will remain the same, with steep shoulders. The current accident report for the bridge is that there have been no accidents on the bridge; however, there have been numerous incidents along the narrow rural connector but no plans for any change. The EIR did no studies on the effect of increased truck traffic if the bridge is replaced and heavy trucks are allowed.
When Mr. Rose referred to the physical appearance of the bridge (“that ugly little bridge”), I can only agree with its appearance today. According to the county engineer, Tom O’Kane, there has been no maintenance ever on the bridge.
No washing and cleaning, no sealing deck joints, no facilitating drainage, no sealing concrete, no painting of steel, no removing channel debris, no protecting against scour, no lubricating bearing, no deck maintenance and most importantly, no careful pruning of surrounding trees and shrubs to increase good sight visibility due to the alignment of the bridge.
The county refers to the trusses as the historic feature. The rivet construction, which was also done on the Golden Gate bridge, is of great historic importance as it tells us much about the development of our country in Depression times and offers a unique connection to our community’s heritage. Not mentioned are the incredible piers, chords and unique deck design, and the beautiful underpinnings.
Mr. Rose questions its historical significance and I think of the recent designation of Sonoma as number-one in the nation as a tourist destination. One of the main reasons was our historical importance, our country roads and lanes and our authentic glimpses to our past.
Bridges, like Watmaugh, Memorial Bridge in Healsburg and the single-lane Lambert Bridge over Dry Creek, are direct physical connections to a period in our history, much like our mission and other historic buildings. Our bridge reflects the emergence of California as a state, since the Watmaugh Bridge has as its namesake one of Sonoma and California’s pioneers (see the Bancroft Library Pioneer Registry).
To me, that is what makes Sonoma such a special community: exploring the country roads, visiting delightful, historic wineries and discovering scenic byways.
I hope I can give Mr. Rose a different perspective on our “ugly little bridge,” as he calls it, and I hope he and others in Sonoma will contact our Supervisor, Valerie Brown, to express their concern over demolition of the bridge rather than its rehabilitation (Valerie.Brown@sonoma-county.org, 565-2241). This is our last chance.
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Patty Daffurn is a Sonoma resident and history lover who lectures and conducts tours in Wine Country.