County repairs bridge, road damage caused by homeless

By Karen Brainard

County crews have been working at the Montecito Road Bridge to repair damage caused by homeless people living underneath in the Santa Maria Creek bed.

Jo Beth Lytle, DPW road crew supervisor for Ramona, shows how county staff constructed a concrete barrier in front of the support pillars under the bridge to prevent homeless from digging around them. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

“They were damaging the bridge and damaging the road,” said Jo Beth Lytle, county Department of Public Works (DPW) road crew supervisor for Ramona.

The area under the bridge has been the scene of mattresses, chairs, boxes, piles of trash and holes dug by the homeless for their living quarters. Those holes have affected the bridge and the road above, according to DPW.

“We’re trying to prevent the homeless from digging around the supports and causing damage to the structure of the bridge,” explained Lytle, showing a concrete barrier that crews had installed in front of the bridge pillars to keep people from digging and camping between them  and the wall. Still, workers were busy filling a hole that had been dug to the side of the concrete barrier.

According to a spokesperson for DPW, county crews designed and constructed “a support and enclosure system to shore up bridge support and ensure the integrity of the bridge.” Construction costs for materials, equipment and labor since May 2012 have totaled about $80,000, said Michael Drake, communications officer for the county’s Land Use and Environment Group.

Crews prepare to fill a hole dug by homeless people next to the recently-installed concrete barrier wall under the Montecito Road bridge. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

In addition, county crews spent $40,000 on brush clearing and cleaning out debris and trash, he said.

Lytle said the crews are filling in holes with “cold mix” that is made of asphalt and hardens and will be more difficult for the homeless to dig out.

This photo from February 2012 shows how people dug out an area under the bridge to create a place to live. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

Below the south end of the bridge, one man dug out about 30 yards of soil and piled it underneath a pipe that runs above the ground, Lytle said. “He did a tremendous amount of damage,” she noted.

Destruction caused from the digging extended to the road surface where Lytle  pointed out cracks in the asphalt. She said DPW crews are repairing the surface of the road by compacting soil underneath and re-paving.

DPW is also fixing a drainage area at the edge of the bridge on the southwest side so rain will run down into the creek instead of flowing into a nearby driveway, said Lytle.

Among those assisting DPW with the manual labor are men and women who are working off court fines by serving on crews through a program with the county probation department.

The concrete area under the bridge is covered with graffiti. Lytle said she hopes to paint over the graffiti this week. Lt. James Bovet of the sheriff’s Ramona station said he prefers all visible graffiti be covered, but there is a catch-22 in that once it’s painted, taggers come back to work on the cleaned surface.

According to DPW, this asphalt damage on the Montecito Road bridge was caused from homeless digging underneath. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

Under the bridge is not the only area homeless people have resided. According to Bovet, they have been digging holes in other areas of the creek bed.

DPW employees Michael Smith operates the backhoe as Glenn Goings assists in fixing a drainage area by the Montecito Road bridge. Sentinel photo/Karen Brainard

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  3. County crews clear debris from San Vicente Road shoulders in Ramona
  4. Bridge Over Troubled Water
  5. County receives federal grant to start 13th Street bridge

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Posted by Karen Brainard on Dec 10 2013. Filed under Featured Story, News, Ramona. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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