WINTERS — No package is finished without a pretty bow, and in the case of the new car bridge over Putah Creek, the bow came in the form of a long ceremonial red ribbon, cut by oversized scissors held by state Sen. Lois Wolk, flanked by local and regional officials who were involved in the project.
Erin Hannigan, chairwoman of the Solano County Board of Supervisors, served as emcee for the gathering, held behind the Winters Community Center on Friday, May 6.
Before any of the accolades began, Hannigan called for a moment of silence to remember the two Disney Construction workers killed on the job at the bridge site in May 2014: Marcus Zane Powell, 25, of Redding, and Glenn Hodgson, 49, of Richmond.
Hannigan then acknowledged dignitaries in the audience, and noted that the new bridge joins two counties and “took multiple agencies to bring to fruition,” calling it a “symbol of collaboration amongst government agencies.”
In particular, she said Solano County, the city of Winters and Caltrans were the main players in the $12.2 million project that broke ground in September 2013, replacing the car bridge originally built in 1907 that had exceeded its lifespan.
Mayor Cecilia Aguiar-Curry recalled that when her family moved here in 1957, “the old bridge was our welcome mat.”
“Now we have a new welcome mat,” she said, taking some time to outline the planning that went into the bridge before it broke ground, going back to 2000 when funding was sought for the project. She noted that the funding fell through three times before finally being secured.
“It’s a bridge of destiny,” she said.
Mayor Pro Tem Woody Fridae praised City Manager John Donlevy, who he said was “more than any other individual responsible for keeping the focus on the bridge.” Fridae also commended city staffers Nick Ponticello, Carol Scianna and Alan Mitchell for their work as well as Solano County staff, and Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor and Sen. Wolk, both of whom made calls to the right people when funding for the bridge was in peril.
Fridae further noted that 10 Winters City Council members voted on some aspect of this project over the years, and also mentioned the support of Yolo County Supervisor Duane Chamberlain.
Solano County Supervisor John Vasquez noted that the dedication ceremony was taking place “two years, eight months and one day” from breaking ground and said the bridge was symbolic.
“I don’t know what makes this spot so special between our counties, but it is,” said Vasquez, adding that the bridge will serve many generations to come. He said 100 years from now, when people return to celebrate the bridge, he hoped those people “will celebrate how important it was and still is for these two counties to remain closely connected.”
Saylor expressed affection for “this beautiful little creek” spanned by the bridge, and of the cooperative effort required to build it.
“It couldn’t happen anywhere but here,” he said.
Saylor also predicted that the bridge will last much longer than the last one, with a much more sturdy foundation now, and noted that crossing the bridge will become a daily part of life for everyone from visitors to cyclists to farmers to children on school buses.
On behalf of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, Saylor said, “We’re so happy to be able to represent our county and collaborate with the other agencies — we build bridges, not walls.”
With that, the dignitaries gathered on the bridge for the official ribbon-cutting, followed by a reception on the Community Center lawn.
The old bridge that came down last year was built in 1907-08; it cost $50,000 and took six months to build. It was the longest reinforced arch span bridge in California at that time, and served as a major economic link between Yolo County and the San Francisco Bay area in the early 20th century.
Replacement of the bridge was necessary because the footings of its foundation in Putah Creek were degrading.
The old bridge had three spans, and was 445 feet long and 24 feet wide. The new one has five spans, and is 475 feet long and 40.5 feet wide. It also has a pedestrian sidewalk, two “belvederes” or landings for standing and viewing the creek, and pedestrian lighting.
— Reach Debra DeAngelo at email@example.com