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Bridge on Bridge Street 2019 By Camas Frank

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The approval of the Bridge Street Bridge Project at the Sept. 26 meeting of the Arroyo Grande City Council was one of the rare moments in government that seemed to make everyone involved happy.

“I appreciate all of the hard work that’s gone into this plan,” said Councilwoman Barbara Harmon, who served on advisory and community bodies concerning the bridge.

She called the lengthy approval process to start an environmental report and eventual restoration of the structural elements on the beloved local landmark an illustration of why things can take so long in local government, but added that she was very happy with the outcome.

Councilwoman Caren Ray added that it was also very rare to get six options presented to start with, and that the option which the “vast majority” of residents appeared to agree with also turned out to be virtually free—with grant funding that is—and she added kudos for the City staff members who worked to find those funding mechanisms.

Councilwoman Kristen Barneich reflected on the uncertainty that those initial proposals had presented years ago.

“I almost threw up,” she said, “when I saw the other alternatives.”

One of those alternative included demolition and replacement with an concrete “CalTrans-style” bridge.

The verdict they were glad to reach, which Councilman Tim Brown also called one that, “makes being on Council worthwhile, was that, aside from the addition of guardrails on the traffic lanes, the bridge, which dates to 1908, would retain much of the same appearance and materials.

A truss underneath the structure will be replaced pending an environmental review this winter. As well some wooden elements, primarily the side walkways, would be replaced by what Community Development Director Teresa McClish termed “wood-plank-looking material.”

During public comment, members of the community expressed concern at the lack of added bike lanes or other amenities; however, staff responded, cyclists would still need to exercise their legal right to take the entire lane, regardless of speed, for safe passage under the circumstances. While overall width of the bridge could increase slightly, it’s only enough for the safety barriers.

Unfortunately for Village traffic, rehabilitation of the landmark will lead to a “lengthy closure” between the next round of City festivals. While McClish said she’d hoped to limit the scope between the two busiest times of year, the project is expected to impact the Harvest Festival in 2019.

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