NEVADA CITY, Calif. May 15, 2020 – Purdon Bridge will be closed to traffic for up to a month, starting Monday, May 18th. Damage to the bridge deck structure, likely caused by heavy trucks using the bridge despite the posted weight limit, urgently requires another round of significant repairs.

Purdon Bridge
Photo courtesy Nevada County Department of Public Works

Nevada County Public Works secured a $370,000 grant from Caltrans to replace the damaged wooden deck and railings of the bridge. Work starts Monday, with Public Works personnel assigned to the project, no outside contractor has been hired.

Public Works Principal Civil Engineer Patrick Perkins stated the county wants to complete the work as fast as possible, given the popularity of the recreation area with locals. During the repairs, Purdon Road on both the Nevada City and North San Juan side will be open to residents and emergency vehicles only.

Parking virtually non-existent during repairs

Even in normal conditions, parking near Purdon Crossing is difficult at best. The parking lot leading to the State Parks and BLM parcels has been closed due to COVID-19.

Roadside parking close to the river and the South Yuba trail between Purdon and Edwards will be quasi non-existent during the project due to construction equipment.

As a reminder, there is no cell service in the area and illegally parked cars may be ticketed or towed.

Now is probably a good time to recreate on a different part of the river or explore other spots, like the Rock Creek Nature Trail on Hwy 20 – with appropriate social distancing.


Originally constructed in 1889, the single-lane bridge is a popular access point to the South Yuba river. The only remaining Pratt half through truss bridge in California, Purdon’s single span reaches 145 ft across the river. The total length of the bridge is 191.9 ft and the deck has a total width of 13.1 ft, the road is 11.2 ft wide with 14.7 ft of vertical clearance above the deck.

According to historical records, Cotton Bros and Company of Oakland built the unusual truss bridge where the deck is carried halfway between the top and bottom chords. Purdon Bridge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Purdon Bridge
Photo courtesy Nevada County Department of Public Works

The bridge is also listed as needing a high priority replacement in the 2019 National Bridge inventory due to an “intolerable” structural evaluation appraisal. The deck and the approach alignment also rate “intolerable.”