By Macy Jenkins

PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — A century-old bridge in danger of a teardown. The city of Placerville says it isn’t safe and needs to be rebuilt.

But locals tied to the city’s historic charm say updating the Clay Street Bridge would be detrimental to their community.

“It’s the most radical change that’s happened to the historic landscape of this town since Highway 50 came through in the 1950s,” said Kirk Smith, with the Placerville Historic Preservation League.

Tucked away under Highway 50 and just over Hangtown Creek, Clay Street Bridge is a gateway between winding residential roads and Main Street. But according to the city of Placerville, Caltrans flagged the bridge as ‘functionally obsolete’ and unable to handle its daily traffic.

The new bridge would have two lanes and new bike lanes, which would require the city to shift the Druid Monument 45 feet away to make space.

“That looks fine for Sacramento, some of the suburbs of the Bay Area, the flatlands, but this is not Placerville,” Smith said.

Smith told CBS13 the farmers market in the nearby parking lot is in jeopardy.

“They actually want to put the farmers market on this bike trail,” he said. “What’s going to happen to the trail?”

And he’s worried historic structures nearby won’t stand a chance under the pressure of heavy construction. Instead, Smith thinks the city should find another way to reduce traffic without unearthing this little piece of Placerville history.

“The best thing would be to scrap it all together,” he said. “It’s not necessary!”

The project is up for discussion at a Placerville Open House at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Town Hall.

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