During County Government Month in April, CSAC will be presenting blogs and short video features on 14 award-winning programs from 10 counties that demonstrate effective, original and cost-conscious ways counties are serving their citizens.

When you think of the words California and bridge together, the image of the Golden Gate bridge, followed closely by the Bay Bridge pops into your mind. Iconic images, both, and depending on where you live, other bridges such as San Pedro, Coronado and Sun Dial, also have a strong identity.

I had the pleasure of learning about a new bridge in our state, Korbel Crossing, that may not be as majestic as some of its counterparts, but no less important to the residents of Sonoma County who rely on it during the dry season to provide access for emergency vehicles.

First, a surprising number: 329, which is the number of structures that Sonoma County Public Works has in its bridge inventory. The Russian River, which bisects the county on its way to the Pacific Ocean, is the main reason for the number of bridges.  Several, such as Korbel Crossing, are temporary and only available when the water level in the river has dropped.

Sonoma County received a CSAC Challenge Award for its ingenuity in creating a semi-permanent structure that could be put in earlier, removed later and is environmentally friendly. It eliminated the need for the old dirt berm and gravel method of placing a temporary crossing.  The bridge is necessary during fire season. There are several homes and recreational camping in that area of the county, and having access at that point across the river cuts emergency response time from 20 minutes to five minutes.  

Korbel Crossing was a homegrown project, engineered and constructed by Sonoma County Public Works staff. You can see the pride in the workmanship, and hear it in the voices of the personnel who designed and built the bridge. There may be 329 structures they have to care for and maintain, but Korbel Crossing is special – not only as an award winner, but as a potential life saver.

To review a short video of this program, click here.

Erin Treadwell is the Communications Coordinator for the California State Association of Counties. She can be reached at etreadwell(at)counties.org