Back in 2011, the city got things moving to begin the Georgia Street Bridge reconstruction in North Park. Simon Wong Engineering, now Kleinfelder, received an amended agreement from the San Diego City Council, boosting their total payment to $735,968.
Originally constructed in 1914, Georgia Street Bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Caltrans had determined the bridge was “functionally obsolete and structurally deficient.” Construction of the new bridge began in early 2016. The bridge and walls had to retain their original look, per its historic status and input from North Park residents and organizations.
The city’s public works department reported the city would accept “$12,352,777 of federal funds for the completion of preliminary engineering and construction.” Two more amendments were approved with Kleinfelder, for “additional time and budget for construction support services.”
At the May 22 city council session, omnipresent gadfly and attorney Hud Collins offered a somewhat incoherent rant, saying the city was “not following federal laws.” The council (by unanimous vote) approved a fourth amendment to the consultant agreement with Kleinfelder, authorizing $75,000.” That amount extended the consultant contract, for a total of $1,709,168. An additional $510,000 in federal money was needed “for construction engineering and contingencies for any unforeseen conditions.” The council voted to get this amount from Caltrans through its “Grant Fund Federal” program.
Third District councilmember Chris Ward had expressed frustration with construction delays, citing a hoped-for completion date of July 2017. At the council infrastructure committee meeting of April 25, 2018, Ward was concerned that something “has gone horribly wrong with the delays.” Ward said, “I see a lot of inactivity on that project site, and that’s a major artery connecting North Park and Uptown.” Staff at that meeting reported that unknown soil properties, the difficulty of removing old trolley tracks, and asbestos pipes under the sidewalks, contributed to more time and work than anticipated.
According to Ward’s spokesperson, Ansermio Estrada, “At this point staff expects to open all the lanes in July with a substantial amount of the work completed that same month, with the full project being completed in September.”
These requirements are included in the project: Soil improvements to reinforce retaining walls, arch and column improvements, deck slab replacement, lowering of University Ave. between Park Boulevard and Florida Street by about two and a half feet to accommodate large trucks, lighting upgrades, and pedestrian/bicycle improvements.
Katherine Hon, secretary of the North Park Historical Society, was succinct in a comment. “The North Park Historical Society is very grateful to Caltrans for funding the Georgia Street Bridge project. and insisting the bridge and walls be reconstructed to their original 1914 beauty.”