The 107-year-old Bridge Street Bridge in Arroyo Grande is on its way to getting much-needed renovations by 2017 — although the landmark could still be replaced entirely.
The bridge, built in 1908, is too narrow and “functionally obsolete” by Caltrans standards and has a 3-ton load limit — roughly the weight of a Hummer H2 with no passengers or cargo. The bridge also has seismic deficiencies and possible problems with the quality of the concrete.
Since 2005, experts have warned that if no action is taken to update the steel truss structure, it will eventually have to be closed.
The issue was brought before the Arroyo Grande City Council on Tuesday night, and after roughly an hour of public comment and discussion, the council picked two possible futures for the span: rehabilitation or replacement.
The council decided it would pursue both a “rehabilitation” plan to replace the structure’s supplemental truss — which was added when concerns over the bridge’s structural quality were first raised in 1989 — and a plan to replace the original bridge with a new one, and use pieces of the original’s distinctive green steel truss as a decorative element.
Though the council heavily favored the rehabilitation plan, an already-secured $563,500 in funding from the federal Local Highway Bridge Program allowed them to choose two plans to send through the environmental review process, to save time and money in the event the rehabilitation plan proves unfeasible.
The environmental impact reports for both plans will be compiled by Quincy Engineering and are expected to be ready for public review by early 2016, with a final decision made in summer 2016. After that, construction would take seven to eight months, with the project completion set for sometime in 2017.
Depending on which option the council selects, the total cost would be between $1.7 million (the estimated cost to build a new bridge) and $4 million (the estimated cost to rehabilitate the existing span). Both plans would be fully funded through the federal Local Highway Bridge Program.
At its meeting, the council dismissed other alternatives, such as replacing the bridge with a modern conventional structure and retrofitting the original bridge so that it could support itself without the 1989 supplement truss.
During public comment, Arroyo Grande resident and archivist Shirley Gibson spoke about the structure’s important role in maintaining the city’s historic image.
“Our historic buildings and bridges make Arroyo unique and special,” Gibson told the council. “People want to move here — and when they do that, they spend a lot of money — and tourists want to come here. Arroyo isn’t a strip mall with generic businesses, so let’s keep it that way.”