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Why this bridge is causing controversy over Citrus Heights trail project

A bridge over Arcade Creek in Sundance Park is slated to be replaced as part of a new creek trail project. // CH Sentinel

Sentinel staff report–
An obscure bridge in a little-used, largely unmaintained park bordering Citrus Heights was the subject of contention during a public hearing held last month, just prior to the City Council approving more than $10 million to be spent constructing a 2.9-mile trail through the city.

The controversy involves the city’s plan to replace a bridge in Sundance Park, at a cost of nearly $400,000, rather than retrofit the bridge or re-direct the trail to bypass the bridge altogether.

The park is located just past the border of Citrus Heights in Orangevale, accessible off Fair Oaks Boulevard across from Tempo Park. The park is owned by the Orangevale Recreation and Park District, and the city’s Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail project extends through the park and then along Highwood Way and Woodmore Oaks Drive, before connecting back in Citrus Heights in Northwoods Park.

See interactive map showing trail path: click here

Several residents who spoke at the hearing questioned the need for a new bridge in Sundance Park, and Councilman Bret Daniels proposed bypassing the park by having the trail utilize existing sidewalks along Fair Oaks Boulevard and Woodmore Oaks Drive, eliminating the need for a new bridge.

City spokesman Elyjah Wilbur told The Sentinel in an email Wednesday that city staff had considered alternatives but determined the bridge in Sundance Park must be replaced and raised in height due to it being located within a 100-year floodway, with the bridge considered “an impediment to the flow of water within Arcade Creek, which is not permitted under FEMA regulations.” The bridge also does not comply with ADA requirements, due to the lack of hand railings and proper surfacing of the bridge decking,” he said.

During the Aug. 11 public hearing, Orangevale resident Neil Anderson, a retired civil engineer, told the council that the bridge could be upgraded and did not need to be replaced. He said city staff previously provided him with what he called an “unsatisfactory” response, and said he was not aware of any federal requirements that a pedestrian bridge be accessible by fire trucks — something he said city staff said was required.

Wilbur said alternatives to replacement were considered by the city’s design team, but noted that adding ADA hand railings to the existing bridge “would further impede the flow of water during the 100-year storm possibly exacerbating the likelihood for flooding and damage to adjacent properties.” He said complying with federal and state regulations is a condition of the project receiving outside funding.

A map on the city’s website shows the current path the Arcade-Cripple Creek Trail will travel along. (See full size)

A question-and-answer section of the city’s website says the bridge must be raised around five feet in height, in order for the bottom of the structure to be above the 100-year flood elevation. The increased height also means new, ADA-compliant approaches to the bridge to ensure access for all users.

Wilbur said the new bridge in Sundance Park will cost $395,000, with that price tag including excavation, backfill, foundation, decking and all aspects of construction. A new signalized crossing over Fair Oaks Boulevard, for trail travelers to get from Tempo Park to Sundance Park will cost an additional $300,000 to $500,000 to install, according to the city’s engineer.

Why not bypass the park?
Councilman Daniels’ proposal to bypass Sundance Park did not gain any vocal support from other council members when he voiced the idea last month, although the idea has the support of Tom DiGiacomo, president of the Woodmore Oaks Neighborhood Watch.

Asked whether the city is considering the proposed bypass, Wilbur said the council’s 4-0 vote last month was to approve the trail as planned, which includes the path through Sundance Park.

Design deviations will be discussed, he said, but noted that “deviating from the approved grant application could jeopardize the grant award as it may be considered inconsistent with the intentions of the originally approved grant which is to move active transportation users away from busy streets and onto the multi-use trail for safe and efficient transportation and recreation.”

Where does the trail go?
Construction of the trail is expected to begin this fall, with the trail traveling from Arcade Creek Park Preserve, crossing Sunrise Boulevard at Sayonara Drive, and then continuing behind the new Mitchell Village housing development and into Tempo Park. The trail will then cross Fair Oaks Boulevard and into Sundance Park and then travel along sidewalks in a residential neighborhood on Highwood Way before heading north on Woodmore Oaks Drive and traveling along a path with overhead SMUD electrical wires behind 7-Eleven and residential parcels to get to Northwoods Park.

The trail then crosses Oak Avenue at Melva Street to enter C-Bar-C Park and resumes a path under electrical wires to wind up on Wachtel Way in the northwestern outskirts of the city. The trail will be 10-feet wide and will include pathway lighting and landscaping improvements.

Funding for the project primarily comes from a $3.5 million recreational trails grant, a $2 million state active transportation grant, and a zero-interest $2 million loan from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments to provide “gap” funding. Additional funding sources include Measure A, Storm Water Utility funds, and various other funds.

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