Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bridge Repairs To Start In June

Detours, delays could take a year

By Nao Braverman
Ojai residents who reside east of the San Antonio Creek Bridge, should expect to be taking a temporary detour through the creek bottom to get home this summer. But by June 2009, bicycles should have a safe ride over the San Antonio Creek bridge as well as cars.
Caltrans officials confirmed Monday that the controversial replacement of the San Antonio Creek Bridge is now scheduled to begin in June.
Instead of diverting the East Ojai Avenue traffic onto Gridley Road, Grand Avenue and then Gorham Road, while the reconstruction takes place, many will be happy to hear that Caltrans engineers now plan to put the temporary detour through the creek bottom.
Initial plans to rebuild the 91-year-old bridge, which takes Ojai Avenue commuters across the San Antonio Creek in the East End, were met with controversy because of the proposed detour. Enraged neighborhood residents did not think it safe to divert the approximately 9,700 vehicles that would be expected to use the detour daily during construction, onto a residential road, that normally takes about 1,250 vehicle trips daily.
The 120-foot bridge, however, was deemed to be in “scour and critical condition,” and needs to be strengthened and broadened, according to agency engineers.
At a public meeting in July 2007 Caltrans engineers offered no alternative to the detour on Gridley, Grand and Gorham. At that time Caltrans engineer Steve Novotny told members of the public that a detour through the creek bottom would be nearly impossible. The Department of Fish and Game and the Army Corps of Engineers would not likely to grant Caltrans engineers the required permits to plow a temporary road into an environmentally sensitive area, he said.
Months later after much haggling from citizens, city and Public Works officials, Caltrans did offered an alternative two-phased bridge construction. Instead of the detour, the alternative would allow one lane of the bridge to remain open with a signal to regulate traffic going both ways on one lane. This, however, would slow traffic considerably, and would increase the project duration from the originally proposed six months, to two years, according to agency officials. The delay would be primarily due to the fact that Caltrans only allows construction during the official dry season, Caltrans officials said. At a December 2007 meeting, council members and citizens agreed that this alternative was almost as unfavorable as the initially proposed detour.
City manager Jere Kersnar said that city staff responded with a letter urging Caltrans to come up with another solution that involved neither a detour through residential neighborhoods, nor a two-year long traffic delay.
But this week Caltrans Public Information officer Judy Gish said that the agency currently plans to divert traffic via a creek bottom detour. Prior concerns about permits are no longer an issue, and the project is expected to go to bid in mid-May, said Gish, the bridge reconstruction plans remain the same as proposed a year ago. The currently 28-foot wide, 120-foot long structure will be expanded to 40 feet wide and 180 feet long, including a 4-foot-wide bike lane.
The project is expected to begin in June and be completed in a year, if all goes as planned. In addition to designing the new detour, Caltrans also has to build a temporary culvert system in the creek, said Gish. But as the project was initially supposed to begin in March or April, the delay is relatively short, she said.
Public Works director Mike Culver and Kersnar said they had not been informed of Caltrans’ new plans to divert traffic through the creek bottom. Both agreed that a creek bottom detour would be much better than the previously offered alternatives.
“They have been keeping me out of the loop here,” said Culver. Kersnar agreed that communication with Caltrans officials has been an ongoing struggle, but was pleased with their new plans.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

CalTrans constantly needs to be reminded that they work for us, not the other way around. Good for the citizens and local officials who refused to let CalTrans forget this all-important truth.

James Hatch said...

What a joke!

This bridge is fine. I have pictures that I took on January 10, 2005, when the water was about ten feet from the bottom of the road. Guess what, it is still standing.

This will be a real cash cow for whoever wins the bid with virtually no benefit to the taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

"This bridge is fine"

...says James Hatch, world-famous structural engineer.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the claimed reason, it
still feels to me like they want to bolster the route to Santa Paula for mining truck traffic. Perhaps those with a engineering slant can weigh in here on what's really happening?PL

Anonymous said...

It makes no sense to use 150 for material trucks as long as 126 is available.

150 is not a shorter, easier, cheaper route for anyone unless all they want to do is travel between Ojai and Santa Paula. 126 is a straight & flat route to I5 and US 101. 150 is a narrow, winding, and often steep road on either side of Ojai, and would only be used in case 101 were closed down between 126 and Carpinteria, as it was during the Seacliff hydrazine spill.

Anonymous said...

Am in total agreement with April 20, 2008 9:29 AM, there is no conspiracy and the 150 is a horrible route for trucks (and those trapped behind them).

The realistic reason is that Caltrans has budget available now, after years of unfulfilled requests. I believe the winning bidder was Athalye; they have a reputation for quality work at a fair price.

James Hatch said...

Nice self-serving statement from the spokesman for Athalye posted by anonymous above.

It doesn't take a structual engineer to know when a bridge hasn't collapsed. Perhaps you would like Athalye to tell you it needs to be replaced.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't take a structural engineer to know when a bridge hasn't collapsed.

Are you trying to win some kind of award for being obtuse, Hatch?

The I-35W bridge over the Mississippi in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour on August 1, 2007, plunging dozens of cars and their occupants into the river. Until that moment, it hadn't collapsed. It looked fine. Someone like you probably would have deemed the bridge safe. However, the non-collapsed status of the bridge did NOT mean that it was safe.

Ojai can only hope and pray that you never wind up in a position where you are in any way responsible for public safety.

James Hatch said...

Anonymous,

Way to pick the bizarre and extreme example. Let's face it, Ojai Ave. is not I-35, and San Antonio Creek is not the Mississippi River. If it was deemed unable to withstand a 7.0 earthquake and I suggested it was fine you would remind me of the Bay Bridge.

Your fear and hysteria has no basis in reality. The only reality is that the bridge is fine.

There is nothing obtuse about a simple observation based on real world analysis.

Anonymous said...

The only reality is that the bridge is fine.

In appearance. CalTrans apparently has hard proof that the bridge is unfit to continue in service. You, on the other hand, have no hard proof that it does not require replacement.

Anonymous said...

CalTrans . . . Leave it to a government bureaucracy. I can only guess that this "hard proof" has been floating around from bureaucrat to bureaucrat for the last ten years.

Anonymous said...

CalTrans . . . Leave it to a government bureaucracy. I can only guess that this "hard proof" has been floating around from bureaucrat to bureaucrat for the last ten years.

What? Not even signing your name this time, "James"?

You can only guess at just about everything, or so it would seem. You have no facts, do you?

In this country, the accused is presumed innocent until proved guilty. If you think that the pro-bridge forces are inept or engaged in some kind of unethical behavior and you really want to make it all stop, you'll need to do more than hurl half-baked (and possibly beer-soaked) unsupported accusations on a blog where most people post anonymously or pseudonymously.

Anonymous said...

As someone who crosses that bridge twice daily, I appreciate the fact that it is being replaced BEFORE it becomes a collapse waiting to happen. Cyclists and walkers will appreciate wide shoulders for their safety. I'm not looking forward to a year of construction traffic, but you have to go thru a little inconvenience from time to time.

Aside from local construction, gravel trucks thru the East End seems like folly. I dread driving to Santa Paula in my SUV because of the curves, not to mention speed demons who use the road to live out their race-driver dreams. I can't imagine double trailer truckers thinking this is an efficient route. Can they make better time? Can they avoid scales or other law enforcement by using this route? These are the only reasons my little pea-brain can come up with for trucks to use this route.

What is the problem with replacing this bridge? Why all the opposition and nay-saying? If CalTrans waited until a news story broke about the dangerous condition of the bridge, you'd be on their backs for not being pro-active and keeping the public safety as issue #1.

Using "government bureaucracy" as a scape-goat for everything has become the one-size-fits-all argument from arm chair quarterbacks. Kudos to the citizens who showed up for meetings to make this project as workable as possible.

We take for granted that our roads are structurally safe, that the electricity will always be on, that "someone" will take of "it" for us. Managing the departments that bring these things to us 24/7 is a complex job that is sometimes done imperfectly. Specific cases of corruption should be vigorously investigated, but blanket allegations are undeserved.

B Dawson

Anonymous said...

The bridge lost a wing wall many years ago and is in jeopardy of having its footing scoured out on the east end because its span is too short. If you were watching during the Jan 2005 storm, the water nearly rose to the road level at the east end.

James Hatch said...

Anonymous 9:42,

Do you work for CalTrans or Athelye? Or do you just feel safer when a government bureacrat tells you a bridge needs replacing and can only rest easy once it's replaced?

I was there in 2005. I have the photos to prove it. That bridge is fine. As our expert pointed out, the bridge lost a wing wall years ago, yet it is still standing.

Who said anything about corruption? This is simply a case of ineptness with a contractor all too quick to jump on board.

Anonymous said...

I am the April 20, 2008 9:57 AM poster who mentioned Athalye, and don't work for them or Caltrans, but am in the E/C business and thought it would be interesting for others to know what I have heard.

There is a thread of conspiracy in the postings of the "anti-bridge" crowd, and using "pictures" as proof of structural integrity speaks for itself. Or maybe it is just a run-of-the-mill Troll, out for some jollies.:-)

Anybody who really wants to know can just stop by the Caltrans yard at the Y. Or go the the dot.ca.gov website. Caltrans is a public agency, and for those not too lazy to do anything other than throw around unqualified opinion and accusations, you can get any info you need. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Although I do find James Hatches’ entries amusing and often thought provoking or mind numbing respectfully, I find that he is now a “bridge over troubled waters.” Couldn’t help the pun. Senor Hatch you should let the engineers well, engineer and stick to amusing the citizens of Ojai with your posts. I am no longer an Ojai resident and sometimes find the opposing posts in the OVN funny because I now live in a city with real problems like drive bys and gangs, oops never mind. Strike that. I am very familiar with the bridge in question and all joking aside, a few pics from 2005 do not give me faith that it will not collapse. I would rather CalTrans be proactive rather than reactive. After all it only takes one collapsed bridge to ruin your Ojai day. Herr Hatch, keep up the posts but in this case I have to side with the sane.

Anonymous said...

Everybody stop picking on James Hatch, OK? He's still in tears over the fact that his chocolate Easter bunny turned out to be hollow. After all, to all outward appearances it seemed to be solid.

James Hatch said...

I am not talking about the appearance of the bridge. I am talking about the track record of the bridge.

The photos show that the bridge withstood flooding that we won't see for another fifty years. Let's face reality here, the bridge withstood it.

When I talk about real problems, I offer real solutions. James Hatch stands for action when action is necessary, but here, no action is necessary; there is no problem to solve.

This is an effort to build a "scenic" bridge to attract tourists. Let's face it, every decision made in this valley caters to tourism. It's so bad now that it is happening on the state level.

Anonymous said...

James Hatch said...

I am not talking about the appearance of the bridge. I am talking about the track record of the bridge.


Every beating heart has a perfect track record until it stops. The Titanic had a perfect track record until it hit an iceberg and sunk. There's no such thing as a perfect track record, because everything fails sooner or later. When it does fail, its track record stops being perfect. When you're talking about bridges, the idea is to repair or replace them before they fail, because when they do finally fail, they tend to fail catastrophically and they fail while being used. Concrete and re-bar exposed to water, vibration, earthquakes, thermal stress and weight have finite lifespans, and CalTrans has a pretty good idea what the lifespan of a bridge is. I base my belief in CalTrans' structural expertise on the fact that we rarely, if ever, hear about bridges or overpasses collapsing in California unless such a collapse takes place during a major earthquake.

When it comes to the need to replace a bridge, I will listen to the opinions of the CalTrans engineers. When I want to be exposed to unsupported opinions dressed up as facts, I'll read what James Hatch has to say on the matter.

Anonymous said...

James, did you go to the Caltrans yard as I previously suggested, and simply ask your questions? If so, what did you find? If not, why not?

The answers you seek will not be found on some board that a handful of kibitzers frequent. Go to the agencies (CMWD, and Caltrans) if you don't like what you read here.

I worship James Hatch said...

James Hatch does not ask questions. James hatch does not take suggestions. James Hatch does not come to class prepared with hard data. James Hatch is his own sole repository of all the facts he needs. James Hatch needs no answers, questions, or input from anyone else. James Hatch need not justify anything he says, does, or believes. All hail James Hatch.

James Hatch said...

Thank you for your support.

Anonymous said...

James Hatch said...

Thank you for your support.


Oh, you are just EVER SO WELCOME, Jimbo.

James Hatch said...

Anonymous,

I love your recipe for responses: Take a statement out of context, post it at the top of your blog, and then run with it. I love it.

The only thing missing from your junior high level of responses is an introduction, argument, and conclusion.

I am glad to see that you obtained 8th grade proficiency.

Anonymous said...

I love it.

I love you, too, Jimmy.

James Hatch said...

Let's face it, anyone with reason sees the evidence and evaluates it. Simple, to the point. A bridge stands for a hundred years. The spans are compromised, yet it still stands.

The experts say it needs to be replaced because a flood might wash it out. I've seen the floods firsthand. I have pictures. Let's face it, a picture tells a thousand words.

What's really going on here? The reality is that a bunch of government bureaucrats have been passing faulty data back and forth from one desk to another. Somewhere along the line, nobody bothered to go out and look when the threat loomed. I did. Who's the real expert?

Anonymous said...

Who's the real expert?

Expert what? Narcissist?

John said...

I just want to say how dumb I think it is for CalTrans to listen to a bunch of crybabies and make an alternate route. I live in Ojai and work in SP so everyday my route will be gridley, grand, and and gorham so I don't have to go through the construction zone. City of Ojai telling Caltrans they can't use there roads. I can't wait until Caltrans tells Ojai Sorry no money for road improvement in your city.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to follow up, as the bid opening was delayed for budgetary reasons. My initial information that Athalaye won turns out to be outdated. Here are the bid results from the Caltrans website, it looks like Rasmussen is the winner. FYI, the engineer's estimate was $4,210,000 (no, I don't work for Caltrans or anybody else here, I am just a guy in the E/C business, and hope this info will be of interest).

Contract Number: 07-1189G4
Bid Opening Date: 2008-07-31
Apparent Low Bidder: C A RASMUSSEN INC
Phone: (661) 367 - 9040
Amount: $3,508,748.00

Second Bidder: MENDEZ CONCRETE INC
Phone: (805) 525 - 8043
Amount: $3,874,210.20
Third Bidder: SECURITY PAVING COMPANY INC
Phone: (818) 767 - 8418
Amount: $3,907,370.45
Link: No bid summary available