Work begins on bridges past slide

Work has started on an $8-million effort to install new bridges around a massive rock slide that for the last two years has hemmed in the most heavily traveled route to Yosemite National Park, the state Department of Transportation announced Friday.

Work is expected to continue for several weeks to erect the bridges on California 140. They will replace shorter spans hastily installed in the summer of 2006 to divert traffic around the Ferguson Ridge slide.

Those original one-lane bridges could not accommodate vehicles longer than 28 feet, prohibiting access for big-rig delivery trucks, long RVs and tour buses that once favored the highways' gentle curves and gradual grade.

Though still only one lane wide, the new bridges will be able to handle vehicles up to 45 feet long. Work on a permanent two-lane road is undergoing environmental review and remains years away.

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