Residents get first look at bridge replacement options

OCEANSIDE — A scoping meeting on March 30 gave residents a first look at options to replace the Coast Highway Bridge, which spans the San Luis Rey River.

Two alignments and four designs are under consideration to replace the two-lane bridge, and add a much wider pedestrian and bike path on the west side.

The city began looking into bridge replacement options in spring 2016, after it was determined that it would be more cost effective to replace the 1929 metal truss bridge than to complete required retrofit work.

The two bridge alignments being looked at differ in how close they are to the Interstate 5. One option is to rebuild the bridge where it presently sits, and have it remain close to the freeway — in some stretches just 10 feet away.

If option one is selected the bridge would remain in place during construction, and traffic would be minimally impacted.

The second option is to orient the bridge further west, and provide 65 feet of open space between the highway and freeway bridges.

Tony Sanchez, Moffatt & Nichol bridge services manager, said Caltrans prefers the second option.

“It’s a safer and better alignment,” Sanchez said.

Residents at Thursday’s meeting also supported option two in an interactive poll.

Construction would require a total teardown of the existing bridge. Traffic would be detoured to the Pacific Street Bridge.

The new alignment would also take up more ground space on the city lot where the bridge’s southern foot sits. The lot is the site of the former Flying Bridge restaurant.

The city has leased the lot to another business, which has plans to demolish the old restaurant and rebuild. No information on business building plans or a timeline was shared.

The city is also considering four designs for the finish look of the bridge box and support columns. They range from box girder and refined box girder, which mirror the shape of the freeway bridge and have columns that align with it; to haunched girder, which has an arched box under the bridge; and a distinct arch design.

All designs would be concrete with cast-in-place falsework and drilled concrete foundations.

The arch design was unanimously polled as most popular by meeting attendees. It has two pairs of support piers and three ground-to-bridge double arches beneath it. The look is distinctly different from the freeway bridge, and reflects the design of the earlier Coast Highway bridge built in 1911.

The cost to construct a new bridge is anticipated to be $32 million. State and federal funds have been earmarked to cover 100 percent of construction costs, and will be received in several payments as the project moves forward.

The next public meetings to review the EIR and select the bridge alignment and design will be held in fall 2017 and winter 2018. At that time traffic impacts, costs and environmental impacts will be shared.

Bridge construction is anticipated to start in fall 2019 and be completed by summer 2021.

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