Of the 165 bridges that the County of Tulare must maintain, the one with the most historic value and significance is the Oak Grove Bridge on the Mineral King Road. The concrete arch bridge, built in 1923, is located 6.5 miles up-canyon from Highway 198 and furnishes the only access for motor vehicles to the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park.
The bridge has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NR). That determination triggered a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) study that is now complete.
From several alternatives, the preferred one of rehabilitation of the existing structure has been selected. In that alternative, the decking and substructure will be repaired with in-kind materials.
This bridge has important associations with the Mineral King Road Historic Cultural Landscape District. In 2015, county engineers noticed cracks in the bridge’s decking and sub-structure. A bridge evaluation study was undertaken in 2016 with Cal Trans as the lead agency.
A work plan was developed to come up with a fix that could preserve the historic integrity of the bridge. According to Jason Vivian, lead engineer for Tulare County, doing an EIR has been avoided and that will help the bridge construction to stay on track for the fall of 2021.
A public meeting to update stakeholders and interested parties is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, July 24, in Three Rivers. Details about the upcoming meeting will be announced as they are finalized.