$5.3M in federal funds moves bridge projects forward

OCEANSIDE — The city has its eye on replacing the Coast Highway bridge and retrofitting the Douglas Bridge overpasses. City Council approved accepting $5.3 million in federal funds to begin environmental reports and design plans to get the projects started.

The Coast Highway bridge, which stretches 949 feet across the mouth of the San Luis Rey River, was built in 1929. The bridge was identified by the Caltrans bridge inspection program as needing retrofitting, then further studies showed replacing the bridge would be more prudent.

A look at the bridge’s age, column size and condition of its deck showed it would be more cost effective to rebuild it.

“Add it all together and it’s the best option,” David Toschak, city senior civil engineer, said.

The metal truss and concrete deck will likely be replaced by reinforced concrete. Traffic lanes will remain the same. Shoulder lanes and sidewalks across the bridge are expected be widened to allow easier bike and pedestrian crossing.

Another planned change is to put the sidewalk on the west side of the bridge to accommodate doubling its width, and to give pedestrians a clear view of the ocean.

It will take about two years for environmental reports and design plans to be completed.

Additional state and federal funding has been earmarked to cover 100 percent of the construction cost, and will be received in several payments as the project moves forward. All steps of the project will go through City Council review and approval.

The cost of the bridge is expected to be $30 million. Construction is anticipated to start in 2017 and be completed in a year and a half.

The current plan for the Douglas Bridge, which crosses the San Luis Rey River further east, is to retrofit it. Engineering reports will determine if the Douglas Bridge should also be replaced, or if a retrofit will ensure its longevity.

Toschak said all bridges are inspected biannually and are safe.

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