Cambria bridge renovation continues at strong pace

Construction at three sites is expected to be completed by the year’s end; work on the fourth might start in 2013

ktanner@thetribunenews.comJuly 31, 2011 

A construction crew guides concrete into a form for one of the western piers for an abutment on a new bridge on San Simeon Creek Road on July 22. The existing bridge, at left, is a temporary span erected in 2008 when an engineer said the previous span was unsafe.


Work to replace four Cambria-area bridges is proceeding, and in some cases, it’s going faster than originally anticipated.

The expectation was that two bridges on San Simeon Creek Road would be replaced one at a time, pushing completion of the dual project to late 2012, but contractor Souza Construction opted to work on both spans simultaneously.

The Federal Highway Bridge Replacement Program is paying $3 million to build two-lane, 29-foot-wide concrete bridges where 12-foot-wide rural-road bridges had been since 1967. The new bridges also will be nearly 50 percent longer. The county will pay the balance of the cost, estimated at $3.7 million in 2007.

Work within the creek, regulated by environmental laws, “is expected to be completed by the end of October,” according to Dave Flynn, deputy director of county Public Works, and final roadway work complete by the end of the year.

The old spans are to remain in place and in use until the new bridges are complete.

Flynn said abutments have been built for the bridge about 2.3 miles east of Highway 1, and workers have begun work to form the final span. At the bridge about 3.5 miles east of the highway, crews have started building the abutments.

In September 2008, the bridges were in such bad shape that they were closed for nine days for emergency repairs after a state engineer’s routine inspection determined they were unsafe.

Two Santa Rosa crossings

Work is also under way on another Cambria-area crossing, this one on Ferrasci Road, near Coast Union High School.

The old concrete crossing dipped into the streambed, with water usually flowing through culverts underneath but sometimes topping the road during high creek flows.

The crossing made it difficult for fish to swim up Santa Rosa Creek, and it was sometimes dangerous or impossible to drive across the creek.

Flynn said workers have removed the old crossing and installed a temporary detour. Associated Pacific Contractors of Morro Bay has a $790,000 contract to build a clear-span concrete replacement bridge and has begun the abutments.

Again, work within the creek is expected to be complete by the end of October, Flynn said, with project work on the roadway to be done by the end of 2011, weather permitting.

Funding for construction comes from a state Wildlife Conservation Board grant and mitigation funds provided by the San Luis Obispo Community Foundation and the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The state Department of Fish and Game will pay for final site mitigation using a Prop 84 grant, bringing total site expenditures to about $1.2 million.

Others who have worked on project planning and execution include the California Coastal Conservancy, Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County and Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust.

Farther west and downstream, where Santa Rosa Creek flows under Main Street, work on replacement of a bridge built in 1922 isn’t expected to get under way until 2013.

In the meantime, planners are doing final design, making environmental-mitigation arrangements and acquiring right-of-way.

The Federal Highway Bridge Replacement Program is to fund 88 percent of the project.

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