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Georgia Street Bridge project lags behind

Posted: October 20th, 2017 | Communities, News, North Park, Top Story | 2 Comments

Ken Williams | Editor

No, it’s not your imagination. The Georgia Street Bridge project on University Avenue in North Park is running way behind schedule.

The historical bridge is undergoing a $14 million face-lift to restore the aging landmark to its original glory, and the rehabilitation project was originally envisioned to be finished by now.

Construction is months behind on the Georgia Street Bridge project on University Avenue, east of Park Boulevard. (Photo by Ken Williams)

But motorists, pedestrians, bus riders and nearby neighbors continue to be inconvenienced by the construction, which has reduced traffic to one lane in each direction and caused noise and dust to plague that part of Uptown. The No. 7 bus traveling north on Park Boulevard cannot turn right onto University Avenue due to the construction and is being rerouted, making commutes longer for bus riders.

Recently, Hillcrest resident Primo Vannicelli started a post on nextdoor.com asking about the status of construction on the Georgia Street Bridge. San Diego Uptown News decided it was time to update our article posted after the project kickoff ceremony on July 19, 2016.

Alec Phillipp, a public information officer with the city, confirmed that the project is running behind schedule.

“The project is currently eight months behind the initial estimate. Time extensions for additional work and inclement weather contributed to that but potential changes in condition in the soil backfill and difficult drilling have extended the time considerably,” Phillipp said. “Also, we have limited our use of night work to minimize noise disturbance, which contributed to the delay.”

The new target date for completion of the project is spring 2018.

What is the current status of the project?

“We are currently pouring concrete retaining wall sections at the southeast, then northwest walls, abutment walls, and stressing abutment ground anchors,” Phillipp said.

Traffic on University Avenue is impacted by the Georgia Street Bridge construction project. (Photo by Ken Williams)

So far, construction crews have already lowered the roadway on University Avenue below the bridge, and new soil nails and ground anchors have been installed in the retaining walls. But lots more needs to be done.

Phillipp added: “Continue the retaining wall pours, rebuild the arches and bridge structure, form and pour the barrier walls, and install lighting.”

For the foreseeable future, “the traffic alignment will remain the same,” Phillipp said.

In 1914, the Georgia Street Bridge — a reinforced concrete structure designed by J.R. Comly to replace a 1907 all-redwood trussed bridge — was dedicated in a new city neighborhood named North Park. Charles F. O’Neall was the mayor of San Diego, a city of about 40,000 people experiencing growing pains.

Comly designed the bridge to complement the theme of the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition at nearby Balboa Park.

The new bridge was an instant classic with its elegant Roman arches, a theme echoed on the massive retaining walls on both sides of University Avenue, below the bridge.

Now, more than 100 years later, the bridge is getting some love.

“This is more a gateway than a bridge,” Vicki Granowitz, then the chair of the North Park Planning Committee, said at the July 19 ceremony. “It is an entrance to historical North Park.”

It took years of advocating by community activists and local politicians to save the bridge from demolition, which was recommended by Caltrans after engineers declared it “structurally deficient.” They worked tirelessly to get the bridge declared historic and then mustered up the money needed to complete the restoration.

That restoration effort, however, is going to take a little longer than planned. Phillipp had one last message for readers:

We want to thank the community for their patience and cooperation throughout the duration of this project.”

You can follow the project at bit.ly/2SdZM1.

— Ken Williams is editor of Uptown News and can be reached at ken@sdcnn.com or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at @KenSanDiego, Instagram at @KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego.

2 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    I understand the kinds of technical issues that can plague this type of project. However, the part that infuriates me is that I never see workers actually doing work on the bridge. It looks mothballed whenever I drive through it. Hard to accelerate a project if nobody is even working!

  2. Mike says:

    This is in regards to Chris’ comment. I live two buildings over from the Georgia Street bridge and so I see the work everyday.

    1) I see the workers working every day. The part where you never see workers working is simply a big fat lie.

    2) The reason why it’s taking a long time is that it’s a complete rehabilitation of a very old bridge/with retaining walls and the work they are doing is to make the bridge safer, usable and look nice, for the remainder of the 21st century and possibly last well into the 22nd century.

    —-

    Concerning the article. While it’s nice for some people that they are not working into the night, first of all, city noise does not bother me. We desperately need the government to retrofit and create new infrastructures in San Diego.

    I’ve lived in San Diego for over 20 years when very little seemed with our infrastructures. Now there is lots of work happening in the city with bike lanes going in, water pipelines being replaced, roads being repaved and more. Finally!

    I welcome all new road construction and retrofits of bridges. I don’t care how much noise the construction workers make and I don’t care how long it will take. The fact is, things seems to FINALLY be getting done.

    ——-

    If you want some real criticism about San Diego, just look at the boardwalk upgrade at the San Diego bay by the Port of San Diego. The first problem is that the Port of San Diego is not local government. It’s a corporation. When a corporation that is sucking up to its shareholders is in charge, things will always go wrong.

    Look at the new boardwalk upgrade they did several years ago. They added two roof covered areas where there might be a total of 10 kiosks, maybe even less. And I can imagine the price they charge businesses is probably outrageous.

    If they actually wanted to make the boardwalk area tourist friendly, they would have added a double row of kiosks and made the rent affordable, so that many small businesses from San Diego could sell to tourists. That would include small stores, souvenir shops and restaurants.

    And they added 1 and ONLY 1 public bathroom. And in the men’s bathroom, there are two stalls and I believe two urinals. HELLO PORT OF SAN DIEGO, WAKE UP PORT OF SAN DIEGO. Your new addition of ONE bathroom is not big enough! First, you need to add several bathrooms and the bathrooms need to be bigger. Why? To accommodate the massive amount of tourists at the bay.

    Also, several years ago, the port added a park, including a new bathroom, in front of where the tuna boasts dock their boats. This a bad idea. Who uses the park? The homeless and dog owners. I can’t use any park in San Diego, including this one. Why is this? Dog owners use the public parks as their own personal toilet for their dogs.

    The new bathroom is NOT tourist friendly. The bathroom is too small and who uses this new bathroom in the new park? The homeless.

    —–

    Back to Chris. If you are going to criticize something about San Diego, you might want to actually think first about the real problems in San Diego and criticize real problems.

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