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What's with all that construction!

It's good news for Dunsmuir ...
We get to keep our beautiful arched bridge

Good news for Dunsmuir and travelers on I-5 …


Across the country and the state, beautiful older highway bridges are falling apart, and being replaced by modern plain-looking bridges. Luckily for Dunsmuir, Caltrans found the money and has figured out a way to keep the graceful arches of the I-5 bridge over the Sacramento River, and extend the life of this beautiful bridge for us to enjoy.


Caltrans will do this by replacing only the concrete roadway that is directly under the southbound lanes of the I-5 bridge and will keep the scenic arches of the bridge in place.  This graceful arched bridge was built in 1955, and now, nearly 70 years later, it’s time to replace the concrete roadway where the cars and trucks drive!  The bridge is still currently very safe, but it’s better to get ahead of any potential problems and to replace older concrete before any problems begin to appear. Thank you, Caltrans, for planning ahead and for saving this bridge! 


The 800-foot bridge will not be affected by this construction, and local travel between North Dunsmuir and the rest of Dunsmuir can continue the way it is now. What this does mean is that the current I-5 southbound lanes have been closed beginning in April 2024, and all I-5 traffic (both southbound and northbound) are being rerouted over to the current I-5 northbound lanes only. This can cause major problem for travelers on I-5 and may cause significant delays for traffic on I-5. The arches of the bridge under the southbound lanes will not be affected; the only part of this bridge that is being affected is just the actual concrete roadway that the cars and trucks drive on.


This roadway replacement project will have two phases. The first phase, which has now completed, involved preparing the underside of the bridge. This has meant that areas of the Park have been taken over by Caltrans for the duration of the construction, extensive scaffolding (technically known as "falsework") is now completed under the bridge. This scaffolding under the bridge will allow the safe removal of the current roadway, and support the installation of the new roadway.


The second phase of construction has now begun effective April 1, 2024.


The second phase is the actual removal of the current concrete roadway from under the southbound lanes and replacement with modern concrete. This part of the project will take some 12-18 months to complete.  


One good part about the project from the point of view of the Park is that, when they are done, Caltrans has a basic obligation to return the impacted areas of the Park under the I-5 bridge to the same or better condition as they were before the construction. We have been working with Caltrans to help inventory the Park’s trees and plants that will be affected, and help plan for their replacement when construction is done.  It addition, certain parts of the Park’s infrastructure (think benches and signs) will need to be moved for the duration of the construction. Again, we’re working with Caltrans on their plans to return items to where they were in the Park.


Here are some additional details about this project:

  • The construction contractor has taken drone video/photos and will restore the features to their original positions following construction. 

  • The asphalt walking pathway under the bridge will be protected in place or restored after construction is completed if damaged.

  • The contractor will use the area adjacent to the pump station under the bridge for material storage but will maintain a 9’ wide access lane to the pump house and storage in the event that a backup of the system occurs.

  • The contractor will be setting up storage on the west end of the Park’s parking lot which will take up 10 parking stalls, leaving 6 regular and two handicap stalls open.

  • Vegetation along the west side of the bridge will be impacted by construction but will be restricted to certain limits set by Caltrans.


As we mentioned, we are continuing to work closely with Caltrans to keep everyone up to date, and to provide one of the avenues for any comments or concerns about this project!

Caltrans scaffolding.jpg
Caltrans workers.jpg
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