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The San Diego City Council on January 8 unanimously approved a cooperative agreement between the City and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to seismically retrofit and rehabilitate the Laurel Street (Cabrillo) Bridge. Under the agreement, the City's share of the starting project will not exceed $305,000.

The remainder of the construction and engineering costs are to be funded mostly through Federal Highway Bridge Program funds. The City will receive $500,000 of such funds soon. That funding, plus the $305,000, will address a shortfall of around $718,300 that Caltrans added to the budget to complete “Stage 1” work. (The project is separate from the planned detour extension off the bridge.)

Under the agreement, Caltrans will “advertise, award and administer the construction for this project.” Caltrans will provide a resident engineer and a landscape architect.

In an interview, Caltrans spokesman Edward Cartagena said the “final project cost is estimated at $38 million.” Starting this spring, the date of completion is slated for “fall 2014,” Cartagena said.

Traffic disruption along Highway 163, under the bridge, will be minimized by doing the work mostly at night, Cartagena added.

The renovation includes “removal and replacement of unsound concrete and steel reinforcement”; also, “replacement of the existing inspection catwalks and lighting.” Asphalt pavement will be replaced with lighter Portland cement.

Work on the bridge deck cannot exceed three months, and vehicular traffic will be detoured during that period; non-motorized traffic will remain open during the entire project.

According to Wikipedia, Cabrillo Bridge was built for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and cost $250,000 ($5,743,421 in today's dollars). Dedicated in April 1914, the bridge was “primarily intended as a pedestrian pathway” to the exposition.

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Javajoe25 Jan. 8, 2013 @ 7:26 p.m.

Uh,,,isn't there some big plans to construct an off-ramp to a new parking garage? And didn't someone say they were going to do that before the big 2015 Centennial Celebration? And Caltrans is going to be retro-fitting the bridge at the same time? This is going to be interesting.


dwbat Jan. 8, 2013 @ 8:40 p.m.

Yes, the City Council approved the garage and bypass bridge. But Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO) has legally challenged the proposal, saying that "it would irreparably damage Balboa Park and could jeopardize its status as a National Historic Landmark District." So it's not a done deal.


Javajoe25 Jan. 8, 2013 @ 10:47 p.m.

So, it looks like Caltrans will retrofit the bridge and then if the City Council prevails on the bypass, they can just tear up Caltrans work. I think that's called the bureaucratic shuffle: one step forward, and two steps back.


dwbat Jan. 9, 2013 @ 9:42 a.m.

No, the Caltrans work would not be torn up. The proposed bridge extension would start at the far (east) end of Cabrillo Bridge. Also, I was told that the same contractor might be used for both projects, mitigating conflicts if they are working simultaneously. But we'll have to wait and see.


dwbat Jan. 10, 2013 @ 2:38 p.m.

Perri Storey, senior PIO for the City's Public Works Dept., emailed a clarification on the funding process:

"The construction costs for the Cabrillo Bridge Seismic Retrofit project are being funded by a combination of federal and local matching funds. This funding split is 88.53% federal and 11.47% local matching funds. City Council voted on the authorization to expend $305,000 of City of San Diego Funds. These funds will be used as a contingency should construction costs exceed what is anticipated and there is a need for additional federal match money. The $500,000 in Federal HBP Funds will be utilized to pay for City of San Diego construction engineering costs."


Twister Feb. 9, 2013 @ 10:36 p.m.

It would be interesting to see the design details and the details of exactly how the inspections have been done in the recent and not-so-recent past.

It would be interesting to know just what standards were used in the bridge's design and specifications, and inspection reports during its initial construction. For example, was any beach sand or other sand containing sodium (chloride?) permitted or used in the concrete as well as the specifications for the cement, aggregate, and steel reinforcing--in other words, how strong was the bridge when it was built, what was its estimated useful life, what scheduled maintenance was required and performed?

What is its estimated present condition and what loads is it capable of safely handling in its present condition and following the seismic retrofit--if there is any difference?

Where is such information posted on the City of San Diego website? If it is not on the website, why isn't it?


dwbat Feb. 9, 2013 @ 11:08 p.m.

I don't know. You might want to contact the City Clerk's office and see if you can obtain that information.


dwbat Feb. 12, 2013 @ 9:10 a.m.

Twister, the article was finished and posted on Jan. 8. As you probably don't comprehend, the Reader's "Neighborhood News" articles are very short. They cannot go on for pages and thousands of words simply because one reader wants a history and specifications of a 100-year-old bridge that needs repairs. As I said, YOU (or anyone) can do a California Public Records Act Request by simply contacting the City Clerk's office: www.sandiego.gov/city-clerk/ or [email protected]. You must use a real name (not a pseudonym like you do here), along with your real contact information. Since you have hours of time to post comments here, you can take a little time to make that request to the City Clerk. Or you can visit the public library and do your own research to deal with your curiosity.


Fred Williams Feb. 11, 2013 @ 9:13 a.m.

Twister, those are very good questions that should be researched as part of the funding process.

With the ruling on the bypass, and Jacobs skulking away from his pet project, the most important aspect of the story is that it was intended for pedestrian uses. Seems to me that simply reverting to that original use would allow the city and the feds to save a bundle.

Instead of building more parking, build a regular synchronized bus route up Grape/Laurel from the Trolley to the bridge, and back. Every five minutes during peak times, every fifteen otherwise.

With Todd Gloria now the Transportation Committee head at SanDAG, he could make this happen. The same highway funds might be used to pay for it...


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