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Crews last week put the final touches on a slope reconstruction project along Hills Ferry Road near the confluence of the Merced and San Joaquin rivers. River erosion had threatened to encroach on the roadway, prompting the emergency project.

HILLS FERRY - A month-long, emergency construction project has moved the Merced River away from Hills Ferry Road.

Merced County Supervisor Lloyd Pareira said the road was in danger of being washed out due to erosion which was creeping ever closer to the shoulder at a bend where the Merced River flows into the San Joaquin River, just east of the Hills Ferry bridge.

Pareira said the county entered into an emergency contract with Granite Construction in the amount of $1.18 million to reconstruct the slope leading from the roadway to the water.

Work started Dec. 1 and slope reconstruction was completed Jan. 3, Pareira reported.

The affected area was to be seeded with a native vegetation mix last week as the project came to a close, he told Mattos Newspapers.

Pareira said the county coordinated the project with a number of regulatory agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Californid Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Marine Fisheries and the regional Water Quality Control Board.

Because the work occurred during salmon season, the county was not permitted to divert flows.

The project involved using quarter-ton rock and washed gravel to minimize turbidity in the water and reconstruct the slope.

Three valley oaks along the top of the bank were failing and removed, Pareira reported. Those trees were removed, cabled together and placed in the river to create additional habitat.