The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), using state funding only, is proposing to construct a gravel access road to facilitate relinquishment of the Cottonwood Creek mitigation site on Interstate 5 in Tehama County at post mile (PM) 42.0. In addition, a damaged gate and fencing would be repaired and/or replaced at the Toomes Creek mitigation site on State Route 99 in Tehama County at PM 8.4. The purpose of the project is to improve access to and within the Cottonwood and Toomes Creek mitigation sites to facilitate a transfer of ownership of the property. The project is needed because the existing access to the Cottonwood Creek mitigation site is along an undeveloped, unofficial narrow dirt footpath and in its current state, is impractical for service-vehicle use. Further, Caltrans pays an annual fee for the right to enter a private landowner’s property to access part of the mitigation site. If transferred to a third-party entity in the future, an encroachment permit through freeway access control or an alternate access route will be required. At both sites, the existing fencing is intermittent, and gates are damaged, difficult to maneuver, or missing. Due to the existing conditions, the sites are unlikely to attract a third-party, to accept ownership and responsibility for the site. In addition, the site is difficult to maintain for Caltrans staff.
The proposed improvements include:
Cottonwood Creek Mitigation Site
New Gravel Road
• Constructing a 10-foot-wide gravel road that would provide access to the mitigation parcel from Main Street. The gravel road would be constructed east of Main Street then turn west and go under the Main Street bridge and the Interstate 5 bridge and would end at the eastern parcel boundary of the mitigation site. The access road will be typically 10’ wide or have a minimum 8’ width at a thickness of 4” from constructed rock base.
• Relocating existing boulders east of Main Street to accommodate construction of the new gravel access road.
• Installing a new gate across the new gravel access road east of Main Street.
• Establishing a permanent easement from Tehama County APN 004-140-029 to provide a permanent access easement to the portion of the mitigation site south of the slough.
• Removing an existing fence at the southern parcel boundary of the mitigation site and installing a new fence at the southern boundary of the permanent easement that would be established.
Toomes Creek Mitigation Site
• Replacing a damaged gate at the entrance to the mitigation site.
• Repairing and/or replacing the existing perimeter fencing.
At the Cottonwood Creek mitigation site, construction access would be from an existing foot path that generally follows the route of the new gravel access road. At the Toomes Creek mitigation site, construction access would be from Tehama–Vina Road (which connects with SR 99 at PM 6.921).
Ground Disturbance/Tree Removal
At the Cottonwood Creek mitigation site, approximately 0.31 acres of soil would be disturbed by the work and maximum excavation depth would be approximately six inches deep. One large cottonwood tree in a non-riparian area east of Main Street would need to be removed to accommodate construction of the new access road. At the Toomes Creek mitigation site, no new ground disturbance or tree removal would occur. Because the project would not add any impervious surface within the project limits, the project is exempt from post-construction stormwater treatment best management practices (BMPs).
The project would not require traffic control during construction and no detours would be utilized.
The project would be completed in one construction season. The work is anticipated to begin on August 1, 2024, and would be completed by September 30, 2024, although the exact start and end dates could change depending on a variety of factors.
No borrow or disposal sites would be utilized.
At the Cottonwood Creek mitigation site, staging/stockpiling would occur within an existing gravel pullout where the access road would connect with Main Street. At the Toomes Creek mitigation site, staging may occur at an existing gravel parking area near a storage shed. No stockpiling would occur at the Toomes Creek mitigation site.
No new utilities would be installed and no existing utilities would be relocated to accommodate the proposed improvements. At the Cottonwood Creek mitigation site, two utility covers adjacent to the access road east of Main Street would be protected in place during construction.
At the Cottonwood Creek mitigation site, most of the work would occur within Caltrans’ right-of-way. Some work would occur outside Caltrans’ right-of-way on land owned by Tehama County. A temporary construction easement and an encroachment permit would be needed for work occurring outside Caltrans’ right-of-way in Tehama County’s right-of-way. Construction of the project would require a permanent easement from Tehama County APN 004-140-029 (this is permanent acquisition of additional right-of-way). At the Toomes Creek mitigation site, all work would be conducted within Caltrans’ right-of-way.