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Wheelbarrows retired on Taylor Road

For 77 days, neighbors watched and waited for the day they could bring their cars home to Taylor Road.

For 77 days, they lugged their trash out via donated all-terrain vehicle, carried groceries by wheelbarrow and picked up their mail at the post office.

But on day 78, life shifted almost back to normal again.

At 3:09 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, county Department of Public Works crews opened a single lane of Taylor Road to local traffic. Twenty minutes later, the first car crossed the new bridge.

It was the first time the road was open to traffic since Jan. 7, when a raging Wildcat Creek overwhelmed a culvert and washed away the neighborhood’s only link with the rest of the county.

“This is exciting,” said Taylor Road resident Barbara Davis. “I made a trip to Costco today and I don’t need a wheelbarrow to get it all home.”

Public Works officials were pleased with their quick work.

“Normally these bridges are built in the middle of summer and can take four to seven months to do,” said Jon Brand, project manager for Public Works. “The crews on this project worked for something like 40 days and the weather was as miserable as you can have for building something.”

Design work on the replacement began within two days after the road washed out, Brand said. A replacement bridge — former railroad cars — was tracked down in Northern California and an engineering firm and contractor were hired.

The project was exempted from the state Environmental Policy Act because it was an emergency, and the Army Corps of Engineers wasn’t required to review the project. The last hurdle was obtaining a hydrology permit from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Brand said state officials were cooperative and gave the $400,000 project quick approval.

County Public Works spokesman Doug Bear said money for the project came from the department’s maintenance fund.

Cars were allowed to cross the bridge Tuesday after the contractor, General Construction Company, wrapped up installation and connected the three flatcars. Paving work was left to county road crews.

“We hoped to have it paved by Friday, March 29, if the weather permits,” Road Supervisor Bob Wilson said Tuesday.

Most of the pavement on Taylor Road was removed while the street was reconfigured to accommodate the new bridge. Wilson said 320 tons of asphalt will be poured once the road is graded.

“After that it’s just basically minor things left to do,” Wilson said.

Brand lauded work done by contractors and county staff.

“General Construction did a good job and they were there when we needed them,” Brand said. “We went with somebody we knew could get the job done. ... We were desperate to get the road open.”

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