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NEW UPDATE - Jan 4th - From the City Manager Regarding the Gulling Street Bridge

New Update from our City Manager on the Gulling Street Bridge. - Posted January 4th, 2024

On Thursday January 4th, 2023, a team of engineers from MGE Engineering met with staff at City Hall and then visited the Gulling Street Bridge location to conduct a field inspection.

Although the scour issue that has been present since 2006, is still an issue that needs addressed, which may require repairs or ongoing monitoring, the overall condition of the Super Structure of the bridge is in good shape. The bridge is designed and constructed with redundancy and all piers are in good shape. City staff is confident the bridge is not in any danger of imminent catastrophic failure, but we are taking into consideration the recent Cal Trans findings and recommendations regarding the scour critical status.

Our Public Works Director and Interim City Manager have made the following decisions regarding modifying the current limitations set for traffic on the bridge. The city’s primary concern is safe travel for the school buses. We have informed the PUSD Superintendent, Bill Roderick, that the school district can continue normal bus schedule operations with some modifications. The speed limit while crossing the bridge shall remain at 10 mph and there will be traffic control coordinated with city staff.

Other modifications will include a speed limit reduction for all vehicles to 15 mph while crossing the bridge. Reducing rates of speed for all vehicles significantly reduces the physical impact on the bridge. The city will be working with Intermountain Disposal to be able to continue their routes with similar speed limits and traffic control measures as the school district. It is important to minimize disruptions of solid waste management and assist in limiting any rate increases because of this issue.

MGE Engineering will be compiling the data collected from historical documentation and today’s site visit and will expedite a report with recommendations for a plan of action going forward. The City of Portola appreciates the considerate cooperation from the community and your patience while we work through these obstacles.


Update from our City Manager on the Gulling Street Bridge. - Posted January 2nd, 2024

Gulling Street Bridge Update and Information

City staff has been in contact with Cal Trans, outside engineers and local county agencies, including the Plumas Unified School District, and are discussing a plan of action.  We have a team of engineers working on the issue, and they will be here Thursday to conduct an actual site visit and inspect the affected area.

We remain hopeful that after Thursday’s inspection, the City may be able to resume traffic to some of the heavier vehicles, including school buses, but we don’t want to make that promise until after the engineers conduct their inspection. We have many good things going for us with the construction of our bridge.  We have continual super structure beams with continuous steel girder, which provides for an extremely stable and redundant environment.

Regarding the traffic signs prohibiting any vehicle over 6 tons. This weight limit is for the vehicle you’re driving, it is not for the total sum of all vehicles at any given time on the bridge. There has apparently been some confusion regarding this, and it may be a reasonable question to ask regarding total weight, but drivers need only be concerned with the vehicle they’re driving.

As stated previously, the City decided to take a proactive approach to notifying those affected, fully expecting a recommendation from Cal Trans to restrict the total weight limit on the bridge. The anticipated recommendation from Cal Trans is just that, recommendations, not mandates. The Gulling Street Bridge has been in a “Scour Critical” standing for several years, but it seems last year’s weather event may have exacerbated the issue. We have been and will continue monitoring the bridge and expansion joints for any movement. Despite the recent findings, the bridge has shown no movement, and that’s an important factor in determining how to proceed.

We thank you for your patience and concern for the safety of our citizens. We will provide periodic updates as needed.

Thank you,

Jon Kennedy, Interim City Manager, City of Portola

Message from our City Manager on the Gulling Street Bridge. - Posted December 27th, 2023.

As some of you already know, Cal Trans did what they call a "routine inspection" on the bridge this month (December 6th) and it was determined that we might have a more critical scouring issue than what's already been known, but needed to wait until the Geotech report was finished before making any decisions. We received that report yesterday with recommendations to limit any traffic to over 5 tons (10,000 pounds). We pleaded to a 6-ton limit restricting to 12k pounds, and they agreed.  So, we're having to divert traffic with any loads heavier than 12,000 pounds, which includes some county snowplows, garbage trucks, school buses, Plumas Transit buses, most big rigs, etc.

Although the official report that places our critical scour rating from a #3 (basically just monitor) to a #2 (immediate repairs and action needed) hasn't been updated, we expect it to be by next week. This is why we took a proactive approach to notifying partner agencies and businesses about the imminent restrictions.  We are already looking into available engineers that specialize in this scope of work and assessment.

For those of you who monitor social media, you may already see a frenzy of activity on the Portola Portal page. Unfortunately, we can't control how people react to information that has been made public as a result of our required outreach.  

For normal use, this shouldn't affect anyone who isn't involved in moving equipment weighing more than 12,000 pounds. It will affect some services, and by next week, we will try to come up with, and approve plans to minimize those disruptions.

We will not restrict any emergency traffic at this time, nor do we foresee that ever happening.  


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