13th Street bridge could take six years

A federal grant will fund construction of a bridge over the Santa Maria creek bed on 13th Street, giving residents an easier route to reach the Ramona Library and the downtown area from Walnut Street.
A federal grant will fund construction of a bridge over the Santa Maria creek bed on 13th Street, giving residents an easier route to reach the Ramona Library and the downtown area from Walnut Street.

By Karen Brainard

By the year 2017, Ramonans should be able to drive the 13th Street stretch from Main to Walnut Street without having to dodge deep ruts in the road or take a dip into the Santa Maria creek bed.

San Diego County Department of Public Works (DPW) received notification in June that a federal grant was approved to construct a bridge for the “dip section” on 13th Street, said Terry Rayback, a program manager with DPW’s land use and environment group.

With Ramona’s new library built at the corner of Main and 13th streets, many residents have pushed for improvements to the side street that turns into a rutted dirt road as it heads north of the library to Walnut Street.

Rayback said the road will be entirely paved, along with the addition of a bridge.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), through its bridge program, approved the funding for the project for the next several years, said Rayback.

The total estimate for the project is $10 million, but the funding will be issued in phases, said Rayback.

“They approve it and for each phase we put in requirements for the next phase,” he explained.

Funding for the initial phase is $750,000, which is for the environmental work and design.

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The county anticipates a complicated environmental process for the 13th Street bridge project because of the vegetation in the Santa Maria creek bed. Sentinel photos/Karen Brainard

“The environmental document is a major amount of work in bridge planning,” Rayback said, noting that many different species are found when working around water habitat.

Jill Bankston, the program manager for the project, said she anticipates they will find two or three endangered species, which could complicate the process.

As for a project timeline, Rayback said the department is planning it will seek authorization from the county supervisors for a construction contract in mid-2015. It will take about two years to construct the bridge, he said.

   
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