‘Scouring’ Might Damage Fernbridge, Reports Caltrans

Bridge abutment on Fernbridge

Evidence of erosion around Fernbridge’s base. [Photo from Caltrans]

Information from the Caltrans Facebook page:

This winter’s powerful and near-constant storms took their toll on roads across our District. As a result, many of our area’s rivers flooded – in one case, the Eel River closed Route 211 at Fernbridge. The high, swiftly-moving floodwaters eroded riverbanks up and down the river’s length, and the banks of the Eel at Fernbridge were no exception.

We invited members of the Structures Maintenance & Investigations team up to check on Fernbridge’s well-being. They discovered scouring (erosion of the bank around the structure) on the Ferndale (south/west) side of the bridge.

While the bridge is perfectly safe to drive on, unchecked scouring can lead to more notable damage to the bridge. Structures Maintenance recommended we begin construction of a rock wall at the southern abutment of the bridge to reinforce the bank and reduce the occurrence of scouring. We partnered with West Coast Contractors, Inc. to immediately begin placing 1,000-2,000 tons (yes, TONS) of rock to protect the bank and the abutment.

We expect the work to take a few weeks, but all work for this portion of the project is taking place off to the side of the bridge on private property, which means it is unlikely you will encounter any delays while this work is being done.

We’d like to remind the public that the area is an active construction site and, again, is private property. No public river access exists at the southern end of Fernbridge.



  • Wait, there is no public access on the Ferndale side of the bridge? Could have fooled me, I thought it was a county dump.

  • The County has known for 10+ years that this very scenario would occur. However, as is policy, let’s wait and see and not be proactive. Hell, we can milk this tragedy into a million dollar deal and seek state and federal emergency funding! Well, the time is now and with your excellent dragging of responsibility, the bridge’s base and land westward is in peril and erosion. I had predicted this to happen, and the recent high rainfall/river heights just fast tracked the inevitable.

  • Just another NORMAL REACTION for problems like this. They’ve known about it for years, but, as you said, let’s wait to see WHAT MAY HAPPEN down the road and than we will fix it (at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have been used elsewhere) after the fact. This has been happening in this County for more years than I can remember. “Put off today, what you can try to repair in a few years”.

  • My grandpa used the termn “scours” to refer to a bad case of diarrhea. As in, “I ate some bad crab, it gave me the scours”

  • the misadventures of bunjee

    I have a feeling that “deferred maintenance” is the catchphrase they use to give them an excuse to demolish and replace the bridge, even though it’s technically in far better shape than many other state-owned bridges.

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