The Cambrian

Supervisors OK bridge plan

Above, a county illustration shows an overhead aerial photo of the existing site, overlaid with the proposed new roadway and bridge. Main Street runs horizontally across the view, with Santa Rosa Creek Road running vertically from the bottom right. The Cambria Dog Park is at upper right. The new roadway is shown below the existing bridge, upstream and to the northeast of where it is now.
Above, a county illustration shows an overhead aerial photo of the existing site, overlaid with the proposed new roadway and bridge. Main Street runs horizontally across the view, with Santa Rosa Creek Road running vertically from the bottom right. The Cambria Dog Park is at upper right. The new roadway is shown below the existing bridge, upstream and to the northeast of where it is now. IMAGE BY SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS

County supervisors Tuesday unanimously rejected an attempt to overturn county staff’s approval of a plan to replace a narrow bridge on Main Street near Santa Rosa Creek Road in Cambria.

The old bridge, built in 1922, with two 12-foot lanes and no shoulders, does not meet current standards. Plans for the new bridge call for a 5-foot shoulder on each side. The new concrete bridge— 37.5-feet wide overall and 150 feet long — would not have an in-creek pillar, allowing more space for flood waters to flow underneath.

The existing bridge spans about 90 feet overall, with a center pier that’s subject to creek-bed erosion.

The new bridge would be built parallel to and slightly upstream from the current bridge. Then the old bridge would be removed. Staf fers say that way, the busy thoroughfare connecting Highway 1 to Cambria’s historic East Village area would remain open through most of the construction period.

In February, county staff said construction could begin in the spring of 2011.

Lynne Harkins of Cambria appealed the county planning department hearing officer’s April approval of the project, saying it will stir up mercury in the soil, sending it downstream and into the ocean. The mercury leached into the area from upstream mines that were active until the mid-1900s.

She also said the planned bridge would be too big for the area, would damage the environment, doesn’t allow sufficient space or safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, and would take out some exceptionally fine plant species, including a large willow, oak, cottonwood and some pines.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson, citing reports from Regional Water Quality Control Board and county staff, said that Harkens’ calculations on “the environmental effects of mercury here are speculative.”

He also said he thought Public Works’ planned mitigations — making up for

environmental damage — “are appropriate,” noting that “willows will grow with astonishing speed” if they’re properly placed and tended.

Gibson concluded, “It’s very clear this bridge needs to be replaced…the railing is barely hanging in there.”

The $3.2 million project could still be appealed to the California Cosatal Commission.

County staff’s report on the appeal is available at www.sloplanning.org.

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