Mendocino County Today: Thursday, August 7, 2014
by AVA News Service, August 7, 2014
Town of Leggett Threatened as Fire Burns Northward
by Kym Kemp
A few of the over 1200 Cal Fire personnel worked near the Eel River yesterday preparing for the Lodge Fire. The blaze is heading north towards the town of Leggett. [Photo provided by Big Bend Lodge]
The Lodge Fire which started a week ago from lightning strikes is now threatening the small town of Leggett in northern Mendocino County as well other outlying homes and businesses to the southeast of that community. With the fire now at 4000 acres and only 20% contained, residents nearest to the blaze are worried that they might be evacuated tomorrow. There are 43 structures threatened, according to Cal Fire.
Residents to the east of the fire are a little less worried as fire lines between them and flames are nearly completed. Bob Barsotti, who manages the Black Oak Ranch where helicopters fighting the fire are stationed to the east of the blaze, wrote a synopsis of this morning’s briefing with Cal Fire,
The fire lines between Black Oak Ranch & the fire are almost complete and should be by the end of the day. The fire crossed the Eel River to the east on the northwest flank of Brushy Mountain yesterday and they are considering hitting that hard today to see if they can stop it. If they can it would probably shorten the length of time they need to be here. If not they will have to wait for the whole western side of the mountain to burn.
They are also considering a back burn on the northwest edge today. If they do they may have to evacuate a few homes in the South Leggett area. So far no evacuations yet. We are now having an increase in trucks and equipment staging out of our fields to work on the fire break by Camp Seabow. They are considering starting to use our pond for the water trucks working the heliport dust suppression but they haven’t begun yet. There are now over 1000 people here to fight the fire.
Below is a map posted by Cal Fire Incident Command to residents. It was photographed by Bob Barsotti and sent to this reporter by his wife, Susan Barsotti:
While residents towards the east of the fire are less worried. Those to the north towards Leggett are very concerned. “We’re really close to where [firefighter are] trying to defend,” explained John Evans who manages the Big Bend Lodge and whose Facebook page has been providing fire updates to local residents. “We evacuated our guests early, as soon as that spot fire showed up day before yesterday.”
Evans said he sent his child away to visit friends. Today, he intends to spend much of his time removing more vegetation around the Lodge. “We do a relatively good job through the year,” he said. Cal Fire comes around to help them prepare annually, he explained. “But suddenly when the fire is imminent,” he said dryly, “your eyes get better at seeing…”
Equipment used to support the firefighters squats under smoke filled skies. (Photo provided by Bob Barsotti.)
Evans said that the fire lines are being built not far from his Lodge. “Yesterday, the hand crews came in,” he said, “I can’t see them [because of the thick tree canopy]—I hear them.”
He and his neighbors are staying closely in touch, keeping each other informed about the slightest changes. Sounding almost relaxed, Evans marveled at “the incredible spirit of people when they were in a crisis.” Being in the path of the fire makes his neighbors dependent on each other. “This,” he said. “puts things in perspective.”
(Courtesy, Kym Kemp and LostCoastOutpost.com)
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SMOKE from the big “Lodge” fire north of Laytonville has drifted south as far as Healdsburg, and hovers over all of Mendocino County.
CALFIRE'S MORNING UPDATE [8:30 am, Aug 7]: 4600 acres, 25% contained, 35 structures threatened, 1611 personnel involved. "Current Situation: The fire is burning in heavy timber. Firefighters are challenged by steep, rugged terrain with difficult access. Fire activity is expected to increase throughout the day on the northeast side of the fire. Structure defense preparation began from Tan Oak Park to Big Bend. Firefighting personnel and equipment are actively working to construct fireline across the northern boundary of the fire and secure existing containment lines."
THANKS & REDEDICATION
I am writing to thank the people of Anderson Valley for their love and support in the aftermath of my recent accident. I am so moved and amazed by the generosity of this community.
I have seen our community come together for others when they have been sick or injured, but it feels different to be on the receiving end of it. So many people have told me that they have been thinking of me, praying for me, pulling for me. So many people have given me money to help pay my medical bills or offered to help in any way they could. Thank you.
I also want to thank everyone who came to the benefit for Mark Pitner and myself last Sunday. I especially want to thank everyone who organized it, helped run it, and donated to the auction.
Enough money has been raised for me to cover my medical and dental expenses, and it will not be very long until I will be able to work again.
I hear that Mark is doing well considering the severity of his stroke but he has a long road to recovery. Please continue to support him and give him your love in the months to come. Mark is a wonderful and gentle man. I had the pleasure of volunteering with him, staffing the ambulance on Sundays. Working with Mark is an honor I hope to have again before too long.
I have tried to give generously of my time and energy here in this community and elsewhere. To receive the generosity of others is a hard and wonderful gift. I will try to be worthy.
Yours, Charlie Paget-Seekins, Boonville
QUALITY OF LIFE AND MARIJUANA
by Chris Dewey, Chief, Ukiah Police Department
Last week, the Denver Post reported that officials at local homeless shelters believe Colorado's recent legalization of marijuana has contributed to an increase in people living on the streets.
Kendall Rames, the deputy director of Urban Peak, a non-profit that provides services, said, "Of the new kids we're seeing, the majority are saying they're here because of the weed. They're traveling through. It is very unfortunate."
The director of Father Woody's Haven of Hope, Melinda Paterson, said that the travelers are more demanding and difficult compared to others who are homeless. "Typically, (the travelers) have attitude. But we are really strict here ... if they are not respectful, we ask them to leave," she said.
Colorado's influx of people who arrive penniless and seeking employment in the state's new marijuana businesses are straining a social service network that was already under stress, according to Murray Flagg who works for the Salvation Army.
Last summer Denver's Salvation Army housed an average of 225 men per night, and this summer the shelter provided beds for 350 per night. An informal survey indicated that 25 percent of the increase was directly related to marijuana.
Flagg said that even those who find work in pot shops or grow houses don't make enough to pay rent, and so they end up homeless along with the unemployed.
Tom Leuhrs, the executive director of the St. Francis Center shelter, said marijuana was one of the main reasons people come to Denver and become homeless. "The economy is not supporting them. There are not enough jobs," he said.
Leuhrs says marijuana users are split almost evenly between those who say they use it for a medical reason and those who crave the access to a legal high. (See the full story at http://dpo.st/1l1vQER).
Although recreational marijuana use isn't legal in Ukiah, we are certainly used to dealing with the marijuana industry, the transient population it attracts, and the crime associated with it.
Each month, the Ukiah Police Department (UPD) submits information about local crimes to the Department of Justice in a report called the Crime Index Report. Our June statistics included 81 felony or serious misdemeanor crimes. Clearly, not all the crimes are related to marijuana, but many are.
The good news is that UPD is working incredibly hard and successfully solving the majority of these crimes. In June, we solved a whopping 92 percent of the crimes committed against people: robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated assaults with injuries. We also successfully solved 68 percent of the crimes where property was taken, like a burglary or theft.
Our goal is to solve these serious crimes so they are less likely to be repeated.
But the Crime Index statistics don't include quality of life crimes – especially crimes that come from the transients or travelers in our community like aggressive panhandling, dog attacks, drunk in public, shoplifting, and being under the influence of drugs.
On a typical day in June, we had three officers on duty and they responded to about 90 calls for police service; most of the calls were related to these quality of life concerns that often involve the transient population.
In June, UPD's three on-duty officers started 341 criminal investigations (more than 11 crimes per day) and arrested 167 people (an average of 5.5 per day); activity included a blend of serious Crime Index offenses and quality of life crimes.
As you can imagine, just like in Denver, many of these quality of life crimes (and serious crimes) are being committed by travelers or transients who come to Ukiah in hopes of cashing in on the marijuana economy; but are instead cashing in on handouts.
Please, stop giving handouts to these transients. Handouts pay for drugs and alcohol. If you really want to help, donate to our wonderful non-profit organizations that work hard every day to get people back on their feet.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
Chris Dewey is the Ukiah Police Department Chief of Police.
CLAP STATS, MENDOCINO COUNTY
ACCORDING TO the California Department of Public Health, Mendo's young people didn't contract a sexually transmitted disease at the rate prevalent among the young elsewhere. "Cases of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea among 10- to 24-year-olds has dropped slightly compared to 2012."
(DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but I'm mildly shocked that ten-year-olds are included in the data.)
MENDO'S HEALTH DEPARTMENT reports that new cases of HIV in the county remain below the statewide average from 2008-2013 of 13- to 24-year-olds.
SPECIFICALLY, (based on 100,000 population) in 2013, there were 37 cases of Chlamydia, and one case of Gonorrhea, compared with 52 cases of Chlamydia and two cases of Gonorrhea in 2012. In other words, the incidence of venereal disease in the county is nothing to be alarmed about. There isn't much.
ON AUGUST 4, 2014, at 11:47pm hrs, Mendocino County Deputies were dispatched to the 32000 block of North Harbor Drive in Fort Bragg for a domestic dispute. Upon arrival, the deputies learned the suspect, Erin Vonbargen, 39, of Fort Bragg, and her live in boyfriend were involved in a domestic dispute that turned into a physical altercation. During the altercation, Erin scratched the victim's face with her fingernails and then she bit the victim's back causing visible injuries. The victim denied medical attention. Erin was arrested for Felony Domestic Violence and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where her bail was set at $25,000.
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ON AUGUST 2, 2014 at about 8:36pm Mendocino County Deputies responded to a residence at the 2000 block of South State Street on a report of a physical fight between a male and female subjects. Prior to Deputies arriving on scene the involved parties left the location. While Deputies were searching for the involved parties, they were advised the victim was at a local hospital emergency room being treated for injuries. Deputies responded to the hospital and contacted the victim. The victim indicated she had been assaulted by suspect Austin Malicay, 37, of Ukiah, during a domestic argument. Deputies observed the victim had visible numerous injuries as a result of the assault by Malicay. During the assault the victim was struck in the face causing a serious injury to her eye. A short time later Deputies located Malicay, intoxicated and passed out on a bus bench at the 2100 block of South State Street. He had evidence on his person linking himself to the assault. Malicay was placed under arrest for Corporal Injury to Spouse/Cohabitant and Battery with serious injury. Malicay was then transported and incarcerated at the Mendocino County jail where he was to be held in lieu of $30,000.00 bail.
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ON JULY 27, 2014 at 8:15pm Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were patrolling in Covelo, California. Deputies noticed a vehicle pass them displaying expired registration sticker and subsequently conducted a traffic stop in the 76000 block of Highway 162. The vehicle was driven by Keisha Renee Hoaglin, 25, of Covelo and the front passenger was Khadijah Rose Britton, 20, of Covelo. In the rear seat was a subject who was currently on probation with a search clause. A search of the vehicle revealed a methamphetamine smoking pipe which Deputies learned belonged to Hoaglin. Deputies continued to search the vehicle and searched a purse belonging to Britton. Located in the purse was approximately 0.4 grams of methamphetamine. Hoaglin was issued a citation for possession of the drug paraphernalia and released at the scene. Britton was arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on charges of possession of methamphetamine and was to be held in lieu of $20,000 bail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, August 6, 2014
Alvarez, Barber, Couthren, Fackrell, Green, Harris, Hensley
JORGE ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Probation revoked.
ZACHARIAH BARBER, Ukiah. Grand theft, conspiracy, under the influence of controlled substance, probation revocation.
ZEBULON COUTHREN, Willits. Vandalism.
ROBERT FACKRELL, Redwood Valley. Dometic Battery, probation revocation, driving on suspended license.
JOHNNY GREEN, Fort Bragg. Misdemeanor battery, felony resisting or threatening an officer.
TILMAN HARRIS, Ukiah. Fugitive from justice.
CHARLES HENSLEY, Ukiah. Public intoxication of alcohol, probation revoked. (Frequent flyer)
Lenhart, Loumpos, Roehrich, Venturi, Verville, Wells
ASHLEY LENHART, Ukiah. Misdemeanor resisting or obstructing a public officer.
SOPHIA LOUMPOS, Potter Valley. Felony possession of methamphetamine, under the influence of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, probation revoked.
GERALD ROEHRICH, Willits. Felony petty theft with a prior petty theft conviction.
JOSEPH VENTURI, Ukiah. Felony possession of a controlled substance, felony possession of methamphetamine, felony sale/transport of an organic drug, possessionof a device for smoking or injecting, under the influence of a controlled substance.
ROBERT VERVILLE, Ukiah. Under the influence of a controlled substance.
JAMES WELLS, Fort Bragg. Receiving stolen property, refusing to leave land not open to the public, violation of a court order, probation revoked.
RSVP REQUIRED (And no, you’re not invited.)
Coffee with your Congressman
A casual conversation with Congressman Huffman
• August 18, 2014 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Shots, Mendocino Community College
1000 Hensley Creek Rd., Ukiah, CA 95482
RSVP to Huffman.CAscheduling@mail.house.gov or 707-962-0933
Affordable Education to Make America #1 With Special Guest: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
• August 19, 2014 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
James Dunn Theater, Performing Arts Center
College of Marin Kentfield Campus, CA 94904
RSVP to Huffman.CAscheduling@mail.house.gov or 415-258-9657 Town Hall on U.S. Post Office Services
Constituents will have the opportunity to provide input on proposed changes in local United States Post Office operations
• August 22, 2015 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
1 Marina Way, Eureka, CA 95501
RSVP to Huffman.CAscheduling@mail.house.gov or 707-407-3585Town Hall on U.S. Post Office Services
Constituents will have the opportunity to provide input on proposed changes in local United States Post Office operations
• August 26, 2015
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Petaluma Community Center
320 North McDowell Blvd., Petaluma, CA 94952
RSVP to Huffman.CAscheduling@mail.house.gov or 415-258-9657 Veterans Town Hall, the Path Forward. Huffman will be guest speaker alongside the American Legion Post 28, San Francisco Veteran’s Medical Center Director Bonne S. Graham, and Oakland Regional Office Director Julianna M. Boor
• August 28, 2014 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Petaluma Veterans Memorial Building
1094 Petaluma Blvd. S., Petaluma, CA 94952 Coffee with your Congressman. A Casual Conversation with Congressman Huffman
• Sept 23, 2014 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
708 S Main St, Willits, CA 95490
RSVP to Huffman.CAscheduling@mail.house.gov or 707-962-0933
A WEE POEM
— Fred Gardner
GOOD NEWS FOR FARMER'S MARKETS
More than $21 Million in SNAP Benefits Used Last Year to Purchase Healthy Food and Boost Local Economies
WASHINGTON, August 5, 2014 – New U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data shows that participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can now purchase fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers through more than 5,000 farmers markets, roadside markets and pick-your-own operations across America. The number of locations where SNAP benefits can be used to purchase food directly from farmers has increased five times since 2008, when there were just 753 such locations. Also according to USDA data, SNAP participants are taking advantage of these opportunities, redeeming more than $21 million dollars at farmers’ markets and directly from farmers last year. Providing more places for SNAP participants to purchase food directly from local farmers boosts local economies, supports family farmers and helps create more access to healthy foods for SNAP participants, which can help reduce health problems and governmental health costs in the future.
“On average, about 20 cents of every SNAP dollar spent on food ends up in the pockets of American farmers. Allowing families in need to buy food directly from local farmers provides a boost to local economies,” USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon said. “America’s farmers offer a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are the foundation of a healthy diet, and USDA has made it a priority to improve direct access between farmers and SNAP participants over the past several years. Healthy eating reduces health risks later in life, which helps reduce our nation’s health costs over the long run. This new data shows that these efforts are working to provide farmers with a larger customer base and to provide families who use SNAP with more options to buy healthy food.”
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has been working to expand the availability of wireless point-of-sale equipment to allow more farmers markets to participate in SNAP. Launched in January 2014, Marketlink.org is a one-stop information center where farmers markets and farmers can find out how to participate in SNAP and, if eligible, how to obtain SNAP EBT equipment. Installing wireless technology at farmers markets expands the customer base for markets and increases the share of the SNAP dollar that goes directly back to local farmers, strengthening local economies.
SNAP is one of 15 nutrition assistance programs administered at the federal level by FNS. It’s the nation's first line of defense against hunger and helps put food on the table for millions of low income families and individuals every month. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children, and 42 percent of recipients live in households with earnings.
To All Farmers and Gardeners: Please think about donating your surplus produce to our food bank on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Food would need to be dropped off the day before or early (we open at 8am) on the Tuesday distribution day. It appears we serve about 10% of the valley at food bank. This locally produced food can help a lot. Thanks so much.
Denisse Mattei, AV Food Bank
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AV Foodshed 3rd Sunday Potluck * 17 August * At the AV Solar Grange in Philo (Time TBA)
Visions and Goals
Foodshed is busy continuing our mission to promote local food and community. We have many exciting projects in various stages of imagining, planning, and promoting.
At this month's potluck you will have the opportunity to learn about and connect with such future projects as:
Fermentation Fest II
Rural Living Skills Booth at the County Fair in September
October C'mon Home to Eat (see below)
2015 AV Foodshed Calendar
Next Year's 3rd Sunday Schedule
Bring your ideas, energy, and a dish to share.
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C'mon Home to Eat in October is AV Foodshed's month-long set of events to both demonstrate and celebrate growing, buying, preparing, and eating food grown in AV or within a 100-mile radius. Many have said that C'mon has inspired them in the practice of eating in season and locally all the months of the year.
We need a committee to organize this year's dinners, demos, and outreach. A template has been established over the years but we hope to add more pertinent activities and fun. Please contact Barbara Goodell at email@example.com or 895-3897 if you would like to be on the planning committee.
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Hello friends and family,
The Grange Farm School is a project near and dear to my heart, one that I’ve supported with endless time and energy. Today I am writing to ask again that you share our fundraising drive with your circles to spread the word about our crowd funding campaign (like Kickstarter) now in its last days.
Why is Grange Farm School important? More young farmers need training to fill the boots of retiring farmers. In the next 10 years over 450 million acres of farm land will change hands. If sustainability minded farmers are not trained, those millions of acres will be swallowed up into industrial farm corporations and development. Here at Grange Farm School I am working to train the next generation of sustainable farmers and prepare them to build to a healthier American food system.
To create this school, I am asking for your help.
On the Fundraiser site, watch our video, check out the perks we're offering. Here is the link: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/flod6/
and a link to our website: http://www.grangefarmschool.org/
We have a good business plan and, with help, will be financially self-supporting. We began with a commitment to $150k of start-up funds from the California State Grange, but they suffered losses and unexpectedly cannot follow through. We are now turning to you for help. Help to build the infrastructure for student housing, processing facilities, fencing/irrigation, and more needs to come from a start-up boost. Once through this early phase, we will be self-supporting.
I gratefully thank each of you who donated to the project, even with the paypal technical difficulties. If you tried to donate before, please try again. The online campaign runs until Thursday, Aug. 7th at 11:59 pm. You may make out a check to the Farm School at anytime. Donations in-kind are also accepted, see our Wish List.
Please visit the Farm School website and enjoy the information. Any amount is gratefully welcomed. The Farm School needs support now.
Grange Farm School Director
291 School Street
Willits, CA 95490
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I’m writing to share information about a useful workshop provided by the West Company. It’s available on three days in three locations, and is a steal at $25. If your farm could benefit from better bookkeeping, you might want to check it out! Details below.
North Coast Opportunities – Community Action
413 N. State Street
Ukiah, CA 95482
Farm Accounting and Bookkeeping
This 1.5-hour workshop will show farm business owners how to set up financial records and an effective bookkeeping system. For beginning farmers and experienced farmers looking for a review, we will go in-depth on how to manage your financial records efficiently and effectively, and how to use key financial statements in strategic decision-making. Receive free spreadsheet templates to help you get started and advice from experienced farm business owners.
Willits, Little Lake Grange; Wednesday, August 20, 2014 5 pm - 6:30 pm
Caspar, Caspar Community Center; Monday, August 25, 2014 5 pm - 6:30 pm
Philo, Anderson Valley Grange; Wednesday, August 27, 2014 5 pm - 6:30 pm
Price: $25. Fee is waived if you are a West Company client. Contact Paula Gaska, Strengthening CSAs Program Organizer for the client Promo Code or with any questions. (707) 272-2711| firstname.lastname@example.org
SAVING THE ALBION BRIDGE
Submitted by Tom Wodetzki, August 6th, 2014. Comments, corrections & questions are welcomed.
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Dr. Hassan Asanteh delivered a powerful boost last night to locals wishing to prevent the destruction of the historic Albion River Bridge. While Caltrans has repeatedly stated that it is unsafe and needs to be replaced, the highly respected UC-Berkeley professor of engineering presented a summary of his public report which point-by-point demolishes Caltrans' claims. A brief summary of Dr. Asanteh's conclusions is copied below.
Dr. Hassan Asanteh was hired by local land-owner John Danhakl to review Caltrans' documents and present his views on whether or not the Albion River and the Salmon Creek Bridges are dangerous and need to be replaced. Professor Astaneh has had a distinguished 28-year career at the School of Civil Engineering & Environmental Studies at the University of California-Berkley, one of the highest rated engineering schools in the world. He has studied many building and bridge failures including the Oakland Bay Bridge, the Oakland elevated highway earthquake failures, and the World Trade Center, about which we testified before Congress. He has recently been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to research bridges in Turkey.
Dr. Asanteh presented his conclusions to a packed house last night (August 5th) at the Ledford House Restaurant. Caltrans' project manager Frank Demling was present but did not comment. He will be asked to present a Caltrans response at an upcoming public meeting in Albion.
Dr. Asanteh stressed repeatedly the importance of using only hard facts to form his conclusions (summarized below), and yet spoke with humor and great feeling, saying he "loved" the Albion River Bridge -- the longest wooden bridge on the West Coast -- and that it is a national treasure that should be and can be maintained in use for decades.
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Summary of Dr. Hassan Asanteh's Albion River Bridge Following items summarize the reasons why the Albion River Bridge should not be demolished and replaced. The supporting data are in the full review report, available upon request.
1. The Albion River Bridge is seismically safe (this is according to Caltrans statements). There is no reason to replace a seismically safe bridge while there are so many bridges in California that are not seismically safe and can cause death and injury to Californians. Until Caltrans fixes all seismically hazardous bridges it cannot spend taxpayers' money on replacing a seismically safe bridge. Caltrans needs to prove that it has fixed all seismically unsafe bridges under its jurisdiction in California before attempting to spend taxpayers’ money on demolishing and replacing a bridge that is both seismically safe and structurally not-deficient.
2. The Albion River Bridge is "structurally not-deficient" (this is according to the FHW National Bridge Inventory (NBI). There are more than 2,500 structurally "deficient" bridges in California. Caltrans needs to spend taxpayers' money to fix structurally deficient bridges before demolishing and replacing a perfectly sound bridge which is not structurally deficient. Caltrans needs to prove that there is no bridge in California under its jurisdiction that is not structurally deficient before replacing a structurally not deficient bridge.
3. The Albion River Bridge has a "sufficiency" rating of 74.8 out of 100 with 100 being the highest. Notice that “sufficiency rating“ of the Golden Gate Bridge is only 11.7. Caltrans has thousands of bridges with sufficiency rating less than 74.8 and many of them are structurally deficient and seismically in need of retrofit or replacement. It does not make any engineering or economical sense to demolish a structurally sound bridge like the Albion River Bridge while there are so many hazardous structures in California under Caltrans jurisdiction.
4. The Albion River Bridge is "functionally obsolete" according to the FHWA/NBI. The "functionality" rating has nothing to do with safety. The Golden Gate Bridge is also “functionally obsolete.” The main functionality problem of the Albion River Bridge is its railing that does not satisfy current railing details. The railings of the Golden Gate Bridge are also the main reason for its “functionally obsolete” rating by FHWA/NBI. There are about 100,000 bridges in U.S. and more than 2,500 bridges in California that are functionally obsolete and are still in satisfactory use. Being "functionally obsolete" is no reason to demolish a seismically safe and structurally not-deficient bridge. The railing functionality problem can easily be remedied by selecting Rehabilitation Alternative A described in the May 21, 2013 Caltrans Memorandum which costs only less than $6 million. This not only replaces the railing, it also enhances the seismic safety of the bridge and can take care of corrosion of the bolts as well.
5. According to FHWA/NBI data base, the Albion River Bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places the National Parks Service as is the Golden Gate Bridge. From engineering point of view the Albion River Bridge is the last remaining timber bridge of its kind on Highway 1 and probably one of the few remaining ones in the U.S. It is a testimony to the golden age of bridge building in the U.S. (1930-1950) and a treasure to be preserved for future generations. Caltrans does not own this historic treasure, people do. Caltrans needs to provide facts and data to public why it wants to demolish one of the most valuable historical treasures of California and the U.S.?
6. Based on scientific data, the tsunami hazard is almost negligible for this site and according to Caltrans' own Memorandum, the Albion River Bridge actually can stand the 1000-year tsunami. Caltrans is making the argument that although the bridge can withstand the 1000-year tsunami waves, the returning waves can uproot buildings and other heavy objects and hit the bridge with those debris loads. There is only a relatively small camp ground to the east of the bridge that will be hit by tsunami waves. The campground has only light campers and cars and a small wood building on the side. There are a few small boats on the river too. If according to Caltrans calculations, the Albion River Bridge can resist the incoming tsunami waves, Caltrans needs to present engineering calculations that show the returning waves will collapse the bridge. The most important fact that Caltrans is missing is that unlike earthquakes that occur without warning, depending on the distance of a particular site from the initiation point of tsunami, there is time for warnings and evacuations. For Albion River Bridge, we have 5 to 10 hours before any tsunami wave reaches Albion. With the current tsunami watch and warning system in place, even if a tsunami occurs , the camp ground will be evacuated and will be empty before the waves arrive. During this period before the tsunami waves arrive, Caltrans will have time to close the bridge and avoid loss of life and injuries. So, the tsunami hazard at this site is negligible and cannot be a reason to replace a bridge that actually can stand a 1000 year tsunami (according to Caltrans).
7. Caltrans claims that the bridge needs to be replaced since the maintenance cost of $100,000/year is too high. The bulk of this cost, according to Caltrans, is due to replacement of bolts and nuts that corrode. Today, there are many solutions to prevent corrosion of bolts and nuts in bridges including using A588 weathering bolts, hot-dip galvanized and painted bolts, stainless steel bolts and corrosion protection bolt caps. It is fiscally and professionally irresponsible for Caltrans to spend $45 million of taxpayers’ money to demolish a seismically safe and structurally not-deficient bridge just because Caltrans ignores using the available technologies to protect bolts against corrosion.
8. Caltrans claims that this bridge needs to be replaced since it cannot carry "permit load" trucks. These are trucks that in rare occasions carry extra-ordinarily heavy loads beyond the design level and need to get permit from Caltrans to cross bridges. But not being able to have permit trucks on the bridge is no reason for replacement since Caltrans has not demonstrated that all bridges and culverts as well as the roadway of the Highway 1 along this corridor can take "permit load" and the Albion Bridge is the only bridge that needs to be replaced to allow passage of Permit loads. It does not make any sense to demolish perfectly safe (according to Caltrans) and structurally not-deficient bridge (according to FHWA) and replace it with a bridge for a cost of more than $45 million while other bridges to the north and south of the Albion River Bridge cannot tolerate permit load either. It will be a total waste of money since permit load trucks will never be able to reach this bridge anyway.
9. Caltrans needs to provide public with documents showing how it arrived at assigning high priority for rehabilitation or replacement of the Albion River Bridge. What engineering or economical criteria were used? This reviewer could not find any engineering or economical reason for replacement. Caltrans needs to show that the reason for recommending replacement of the Albion River Bridge was not based on other considerations such as to create jobs for district engineers and its concrete contractors.
10. The main responsibility of Caltrans and state government is to provide for public safety and ensure that taxpayers' money is spent to fix bridges that are seismically unsafe or structurally deficient wherever they might be in California instead of trying to divide its construction funds to keep engineers at all Caltrans Districts busy even if that means demolishing a perfectly safe and historically significant timber bridge and replacing it with a concrete bridge for a cost of more than $45 million.
Comments on the Salmon Creek Bridge by Dr. Hassan Astaneh: Executive Summary Following items summarize the main reasons why the Salmon Creek Bridge should not be demolished and replaced. The supporting data and discussions are in the review report. 1. The Salmon Creek Bridge and its roadway deck can be seismically retrofitted. The condition of the deck being rated as “poor” in the National Bridge Inventory is the reason why Salmon Creek Bridge is rated as Structurally deficient. . By doing the retrofit and rehabilitation for an amount much less than $60 million cost of replacement, the bridge will no longer be structurally deficient and can serve for many decades to come. 2. The Salmon Creek Bridge is "functionally obsolete" according to the FHWA/NBI. The "functionality” rating is not related to safety of the bridge in any way. The Golden Gate Bridge is also rated “functionally obsolete.” The main functionality problem of the Salmon Creek Bridge is its railing approaches that do not satisfy the current railing standards. The railings of the Golden Gate Bridge are also the main reason for its “functionally obsolete” rating by FHWA/NBI. There are about 100,000 bridges in the U.S. and more than 2,500 bridges in California that are functionally obsolete but still in satisfactory use. Being "functionally obsolete" is no reason to replace a bridge. The railing functionality problem can easily be remedied by replacing the existing railings with new and standard railings as part of the rehabilitation program. 3. Another reason given by Caltrans for replacing the bridge was that the replacement options would have 8 feet wide shoulders and 5 feet wide pedestrian bike lanes. Highway 1 for tens of miles to the north and south of the Salmon Creek Bridge has no pedestrian bike lanes and almost no shoulders. The bridge has very low collision rate, about half of the state average and only 2 collisions over a 3.5 years period with one injury which was due to speeding. With a traffic volume of about 2,100 vehicles per day and no shoulders and bike lanes throughout the corridor, spending more than $60 million to replace the bridge and add shoulders and bike lane does not make any engineering or economic sense. 4. The “20th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems” a comprehensive report by Emeritus Professor David T. Hartgen (Ph.D., P.E.) released in 2013 provides the latest fact-based data on performance of state highway systems including roads and bridges for all 50 states and ranks the states on how efficiently they spend highway funds. There are various categories in the report to measure the efficiency of the disbursement of transportation money and performance. The following table shows the rankings of California State Highway System in various categories from this report. As figure below from the report shows California is ranked as 47th in Overall Highway Performance. The only states worse than California are HI, RI and AK. From: 20th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems”,by David T. Hartgen In the category of “Total Disbursements per State Controlled Mile”, California is ranked 49th by spending $679,296 per state controlled mile. The only state worse than California is NJ at $1,221,403. The best ranked state is SC at $31,379. According to the report, California’s Total Disbursements per State Controlled Mile is 4.7 times the average U.S. wide disbursement. California is ranked 49th state in disbursing the highest amount per mile of transportation funds and ranked 47th state in worse overall performance of its highway system. This is a clear indicator of an urgent need for Caltrans to review its policies and procedures in allocating transportation funds to projects that can result in improved performance for our state highway system. The Salmon Creek Bridge Project as well the Albion River Project are a very good examples of why Caltrans ranking is in the 47th, almost the highest spending per mile) and 49th in performance ( almost the worst). As shown in this report, the decision to replace these two bridges had almost no basis on engineering or economic consideration. These two bridges can be good cases for Caltrans to focus on and see how it can prioritize its spending in a way that is financially responsible and results in high performance. Therefore, it is recommended that the Salmon Creek Bridge be rehabilitated by replacing its deck and railing and adding seismic retrofit measures instead of replacing it. Such rehabilitation can raise the bridge rating in the National Bridge Inventory data base as Structural Not-Deficient and Functionally Not-Obsolete and increase seismic safety of the bridge. The rehabilitation option rather than replacing the bridge would save the taxpayers of California more than $50 million, the difference between the cost of rehabilitation and replacement options.