McKINLEYVILLE/ARCATA BOTTOM – With the Hammond Bridge rusting away and slowly dying, Humboldt County Public Works is hoping to get the environmental review process underway so it can replace the aging trestle.
To this end, the county is seeking grant funding for the replacement project, and asked the McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee (McKMAC) for a letter of support at its May 27 meeting. The McKMAC was unanimous in its support of the project.
The McKMAC also got some good news – the bridge won’t necessarily be replaced with an ugly cement structure.
“We can’t just slap a concrete bridge down anymore,” Public Works Director Tom Mattson told the McKMAC. Mattson said he doesn’t know what the design would look like, but aesthetics will be considered.
The Hammond Bridge has been perched above the Mad River for seven decades and is under constant assault by the ocean air. Corrosion is eating away at the structure. At the current rate of rust, county official estimate the structure may be unsafe in a decade or less.
Back in 1997, the county looked into repairing and repainting the bridge, but doing so was deemed cost prohibitive. Complicating matters is the lead paint on the bridge. In order to sand blast the bridge, the entire structure would need to be wrapped in a big diaper to prevent paint chips from falling into the Mad River Estuary.
Mattson was asked by a McKMAC member what would happen if the county does nothing to the bridge.
“It falls into the river,” Mattson responded.