Berkland Bridge dedication hits snag
County says putting up signs will cost a bundle to keep the bridge safe
The late Jim Berkland, who grew up in Glen Ellen, went all out to save the 1931 steel truss bridge that spans Sonoma Creek on Arnold Drive at the entrance to the Sonoma Developmental Center, a bridge he played on throughout his formative years. The bridge remains today, designated California Historic Landmark #169, thanks to Berkland’s tireless efforts in 1998. His friends would very much like to dedicate that bridge to him.
Berkland, who died in 2016, was a geologist, poet and notable community figure, well-known for his work on predicting earthquakes.
In the initial glow of strong community support, Marge Everidge and Archie Horton attached two signs they made onto the bridge. But proving that no good deed goes unpunished, the county removed the signs earlier this spring because they were unauthorized and considered potentially damaging to the structure.
While Sonoma County doesn’t officially encourage naming bridges after people, the powers that be have indicated a willingness to allow a memorial plaque to be placed on the structure. Working out the details, however, has proved problematic, according to Jim Shere, a Glen Ellen historian and friend of Berkland who is helping with the memorial project. It is being sponsored by The Glen Ellen Forum and the Glen Ellen Historical Society.
“There was at first a great deal of confusion about which agency has authority over the bridge,” Shere said. “On June 27, I met with Johannes J. Hoevertsz, Director, and Dan Virkstis, public affairs program manager of the county’s Department of Transportation and Public Works. After a lengthy discussion they agreed to replace the signs that Marge and Archie had made on posts at each end of the bridge.”
Hoevertsz made it clear that the county does not officially sanction naming bridges and buildings after people, but he and Virkstis agreed that a public ceremony would be appropriate, Shere said.
On July 3, Shere was informed by Clyde Galantine, engineering technician for the Traffic Division of Public Works, that the cost of installing the signage would be “around $1,500.”
While local contractors are interested in volunteering their time to install the signs, Galantine wrote, “Since the signs/posts would be placed in the county right-of-way, the county is responsible for location and installation. Also, there are liability issues.”
Later, Galantine figured out that the cost to install the two signs on four-inch by four-inch wooden posts at each end of the bridge would be $2,196.94. He added “This includes materials, equipment and labor. This cost may be lower if we are able to reduce time spent at the USA [Underground Services Alert] site marking and installing the posts/signs.”
The Glen Ellen Historical Society is now seeking funding to meet the cost. Shere said the Sonoma Valley Lions Club has asked him to speak at their meeting in August; they are planning to make a donation to the fund.
For more information, contact Jim Shere at 935-3663 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can be made through the Glen Ellen Forum online at glenellen.org or by sending a check to P.O. Box 464, Glen Ellen, CA 95442.