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The Forrester Road Bridge over the Westside Main Canal northwest of the city of Imperial is shown. The county moved along the second phase of the bridge replacement project with a $1 million expenditure for its design phase on Tuesday, Sept. 21. | COURTESY IMAGE

Imperial County Moves Along Forrester Bridge Project

Also, $2.8 Million in Workforce Youth Funds Released

The second phase of the replacement project for the Forrester Road Bridge over the Westside Main Canal was approved in the amount of $1,001,700.

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the project at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 21.

“You can think of it as a consulting contract with a design firm. We actually solicited for it (as) a federal aid project. It’s basically a grant project to replace the Forrester Road bridge over the Westside Main Canal,” John Gay, Imperial County’s director of Public Works/Road Commissioner, said in a phone interview on Monday, Sept. 20.

The program funding the bridge replacement comes from the federal Highway Bridge Program for rehabilitating bridges from around the country. HBP is a highly competitive program, which requires annual reapplication, Gay said.

“We’ve already got approval. So, we’re now going into the next phase, which is the environmental portion. It’s going to probably be a very involved process. It going to be another two years of environmental just going through the process the way these types of projects work,” Gay said.

This approval will allow Quincy Engineering Inc., the design engineering services firm who did the initial survey of the bridge, to continue to work on this project through the environmental impact reports and into the design phase.

Gay also said moving forward, the state Department of Transportation will be the lead agency handling the environmental reports for this project, with Imperial County playing a supporting role.

“It’s a very extensive review. They look at all the different issues associated with the bridge itself, so they’ll be looking at traffic. They’ll be looking at the biology impacts and the cultural impacts. They’ll be looking at any ag related impacts. They’ll be looking at just a host of different issues that we typically go through when we do an environmental-type project, so there’s probably there’s a number of areas that they’re going to be looking at,” Gay said when asked about what Caltrans might include in their reports.

WIOA Youth Subgrant Agreement Approved

The county board unanimously approved the release of $2,832,967 to the Imperial County Division of Workforce and Business Services for its 2021-2023 program year.

Funds come from Workforce Innovations and Opportunities Act Youth Program, which was enacted 2014 to develop a comprehensive youth employment program. It focuses on participants ages 14-24, who face barriers in education, training, and employment.

“These are funds from the Department of Labor that are filtered down to the states through a formula, and then they are distributed to local agencies for adult and youth work development programs,” Priscilla Lopez, Imperial County Workforce and Economic Development director, said during the county boarding meeting on Sept. 21.

The WIOA Youth Program focuses on out-of-school youths, meaning youths who have either dropped out or who have graduated but have not found employment. WIOA requires local areas to expend a minimum of 75 percent of WIOA youth funds on these programs, which Imperial County achieves though a series of tutoring programs for graduation, GED preparation programs, and career path preparations.

WIOA also prioritizes work experience through a 20 percent minimum expenditure rate for the work experience programs. Imperial County achieves this through work experience and internship programs, which businesses throughout the county participate in.