Rural road closures drag on

Three Loomis Basin road projects are behind schedule
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Editor
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Sierra Ridge Pipeline

Who: Placer County Water Agency (PCWA)

Cost: $3 million

Completion: Was December 2012, now May 2013

Horseshoe Bar Road

Who: Placer County

Cost: $275,000

Completion: Was fall 2012, now is weather dependent

Gravity flow sewer line

Who: South Placer Municipal Utility District (SPMUD)

Cost: $1.4 million

Completion: Was February 2013, now April to May


Three road projects in the Loomis Basin are behind schedule, inconveniencing both drivers and residents.

While most of the blame can be placed on Mother Nature, other factors played a role as well. Three different entities are behind the projects and each is using a different contractor to complete the work.

Placer County has conducted a $275,000 road improvement project on Horseshoe Bar Road at Vista Drive that remains incomplete, although road closures are no longer in effect.

Phil Vassion, with the county public works department, said the use of base rock that didn’t meet standards and asphalt that “got too cold in the truck” while it was being transported caused pavement cracking at the project site. The delay dragged the project into colder, wetter months when paving cannot be done.

Vassion said the contractor, Mendez Construction, needs a “two-week weather window with no rain and warm temperatures of at least 50 degrees on the roadway” in order to complete the paving. The project was originally slated for completion last fall.

Mel Douglas, of Loomis, said he is tired of driving over the rough road and said, “The county ought to have a rating system on these contractors before they have them do another job.”

Another roadwork project causing headaches is Placer County Water Agency’s (PCWA) Sierra Ridge pipeline that will increase water capacity and improve fire hydrant pressure, but right now it’s creating delays for drivers and residents.

The contractor is Preston Pipelines and the project price tag is $3 million.

Roadwork has been conducted on Val Verde Road and Wells Avenue, from Dick Cook Road to Barton Road with daytime road closures.

Tony Firenzi, senior engineer with PCWA, said weather and paperwork problems have delayed the project that was supposed to be completed in early December, but didn’t get started until about that time and then was delayed by rain.

Road closures have been in effect during the day with the roads reopening in the evening.

An updated construction schedule calls for continued daytime road closures on Val Verde Road through late May.

Another phase of the project will close Barton Road from Rutherford Canyon Road to Brace Road in April and May.

In a third project, South Placer Municipal Utility District (SPMUD) is getting rid of the Penryn pump station and putting in gravity flow sewer lines.

The construction has completely closed Swetzer Road between Loomis and Penryn.

The discovery of a large granite area that must be tediously chipped away has delayed the project, said General Manager Charles Clark.

Clark said the construction company, Marques Pipelines, Inc.,   hit “basically an underground mountain” of granite at a depth of 20 feet below the roadway.

He said the county won’t allow any blasting of the rock because of homes in the area, so the contractor must dig a pit to take equipment into and then break away the granite.

He said the contractor has spent “three weeks on one rock,” which has delayed the $1.4 million project, although the pipe installation is nearly 80 percent complete.

“They don’t know how long it will take, at least another month,” Clark said, of the project that was supposed to have been finished in late February.