Georgia Street Bridge — now promised for September

Something “horribly wrong with the delays”

Top of Georgia Street bridge
  • Top of Georgia Street bridge

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.

Bridge plan from Simon Wong Engineering

Bridge plan from Simon Wong Engineering

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.”

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To Gregory May on FB: That's what some boosters think about the California High-Speed Rail (bullet train): "It'll be done when it's done." But construction delays usually result in increased costs. We've also seen this repeatedly in the corrupt defense industry.

After posting this, the city's Communications Dept. provided the $ amount: "The current project cost is $15.9 million; local - $3M, federal - $12.9M."

So, what's new here? The city promises something, and it takes far longer than it should have, and costs far more. Typical City of SD mismanagement.

And you have to note how often the municipality doesn't end up picking up the tab for street improvements and/or repairs. In this case it is providing less than 20% of the total. Why the heck is the federal government, running a huge deficit, picking up the tab for local projects?

While the bridge was graceful, I'm not sure its appearance was beautiful. I would call it iconic and interesting.

The project received that major funding via Federal Highway Administration grants. Bridges throughout the country are in need of replacement (relocated) bridges or reconstruction in place. Only the federal govt. can come up with the huge funds needed for these projects.

To Greg Shephard Marc Cottom on FB: I live easy walking distance to the bridge. I've noticed many periods of inactivity over the months, as mentioned by Councilmember Ward.

It must be hard to do something like this (refurbish a 100-year-old structure). I can imagine that no matter how well things are planned, many unforeseen events occur that lengthen the supposed time of construction.

Yes, that was explained by city staff. But sometimes construction companies have to come up with excuses why they haven't completed the project on time, per their winning bid. Are they ever going to say: "Sorry, we messed up." Of course not.

I feel sorry for residents who live so close, especially in that large building on the north side of University at Georgia Street. The daytime noise must be deafening.

It'll be difficult for them to meet the announced September project completion, as the new sidewalk construction is barely started. We'll see.

August 8 update: Per the City, there will be "Full Road Closure on Georgia Street from Aug. 13 - Aug. 17." They will be repaving Georgia St. in the bridge area; ramps from Park Blvd. will also be closed to cars (but pedestrians can pass through).


by dwbat

October 9 update: I walked up to Georgia Street today, and the bridge is now open. And both upper sidewalks are open. Down on University, they are still at 2 lanes of traffic.

Does anyone know what the lighting plans are for the bridge? It's super dark for cars and pedestrians at night. I would love to see one well lit street anywhere in San Diego.

The City only mentioned there will be "lighting upgrades" so we'll have to wait and see what they do.

Thank you! Looks like they finished the bridge but it still super dark.

Ansermio Estrada gave an update Nov. 3: "There’s still some work to do to coat the cement surfaces with anti-graffiti coating which they’re working to complete."

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