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Gratefulness and history on the new bridge across the Feather River
August 01, 2019
Feather River Bridge Ribbon Cutting

On Saturday, July 27, a brief ceremony was conducted on the new Fifth Street Bridge prior to two of its lanes being opened to traffic. Representatives of the City of Yuba City, Marysville, Yuba County and Sutter county attended the event, including some former city council members. After remarks, there was a ribbon cutting.

Below are the remarks delivered by Sutter County Board of Supervisors Chair Mt Conant:

“On behalf of the entire Board of Supervisors of the County of Sutter, I extend a big thank you to the Yuba City Council and the Yuba City staff who have done a remarkable job of managing this construction project for the benefit of the two cities, Marysville and Yuba City, and two counties, Yuba and Sutter.

“This has been no small undertaking, as anyone who has witnessed the rise of this bridge can attest. Working around, over, and on a river or flood control levee complicates any construction project due to the need to acquire multiple permits from multiple state and federal agencies.

“Clearly, MCM Construction Company of North Highlands and their various subcontractors are to be commended for the rapid pace at which this project is being completed.

“The cooperation between the construction company and the city of Yuba City in keeping the public informed about closures of roads, and even sometimes the river below the bridge, on Social Media and through traditional media has been of tremendous value to the public.

“This bridge is a vital component of this region’s economy. It plays a necessary role in moving goods from one place to another and providing customers with access to businesses.

“Every day of the work week, an estimated 11,500 workers cross from one side of the Feather River into the other city or county for work. This new four-lane bridge will also add more capacity to the escape routes available to this community in times of emergency.

“Now for a bit of history. Sutter County built the first public bridge across the Feather River between Yuba City and Marysville in 1861.

“At that time in California, all bridges were private toll bridges. The cost of transporting crops and other good across the toll bridge located just a few yards downstream of our current location had an impact on local trade that riled the residents of the two cities. There was quite an agitation in the community and the local press for a free bridge.

“So Sutter County erected the “Sutter County Free Bridge.” But not without a court fight.

“The owner of the existing toll bridge sued Sutter County, claiming that the local government lacked the authority to construct roads and bridges at public expense. But Sutter County won that case, an important case in the early development of our state. And when this first public bridge across the Feather River at nearly this same spot was completed, Oroville and other communities throughout this region were demanding their local governments begin doing the same.

“While it was called the Sutter County Free Bridge, there was a toll placed on its use for several months so that Sutter County could recoup the cost of construction. Ultimately, the toll disappeared and the free bridge the public wanted it got, but the toll had lasted long enough for the editor of the Appeal newspaper to comment we should have called it “The Almost Free Bridge.”

“One other point to make. Just a few months after it was completed, The Sutter County Free Bridge withstood the worst flooding in the written history of California—the Super Flood of 1861-62 that turned the Sacramento Valley into an inland sea. While bridges fell on rivers all around in that flood, the Sutter County Free Bridge survived and served the people of this community as a free public bridge for decades.”