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Arroyo Grande to consider repairing, not replacing, historic Bridge Street Bridge

The truss structure that gave Bridge Street in Arroyo Grande its name is 109 years old. The City Council is considering rehabilitating the old bridge rather than replacing it.
The truss structure that gave Bridge Street in Arroyo Grande its name is 109 years old. The City Council is considering rehabilitating the old bridge rather than replacing it. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

For the past two years, the Bridge Street Bridge in Arroyo Grande has been defined by one question: Should the city spend more money to rehabilitate the failing structure, or should it go the less expensive route and just replace it altogether?

The city may have reached an answer: rehabilitate.

The Arroyo Grande City Council is set to consider the future of the bridge at its meeting Tuesday. City staff is recommending the council drop the replacement option and instead focus on repairing the 109-year-old structure.

When the project went before the City Council in 2015, residents urged the council to favor the more expensive option of rehabilitating the structure, rather than replacing it, in order to preserve its historical nature.

The bridge was last updated in 1989, when a supplemental truss was added below the structure to help strengthen it.

The bridge is functionally obsolete by Caltrans standards, is too narrow and has the lowest load limit allowed on bridges before they must be closed — 3 tons, or roughly the weight of an empty Hummer H2.

The bridge was last updated in 1989, when a supplemental truss was added below the structure to help strengthen it. That truss has not held up to modern use and is one of the major failings of the bridge.

Officials have warned that if the bridge’s issues are not addressed soon, it will probably have to be closed.

The rehabilitation option — which was estimated in 2015 to cost about $4 million — called for the city to replace the structure’s supplemental truss but keep the original bridge intact, while the other plan called for replacing the original bridge with a new concrete box girder bridge, and using pieces of the original’s distinctive green steel truss as a decorative element. That plan was estimated to cost $1.7 million in 2015.

At the time, the council heavily favored the rehabilitation option — despite its cost — but had secured additional funding so there could be an environmental review process for the replacement option.

Now, city staff is recommending dropping the replacement option, and is instead focusing entirely on rehabilitation because of changes in Caltrans policy that makes it unlikely the state agency would support replacing the historical bridge with a new structure. The city has also secured 100 percent of the funding necessary to complete the project through the Local Highway Bridge Program, according to the staff report.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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