Construction on the Ortega Street Bridge Replacement Project is set to begin Monday.

The city of Santa Barbara has selected Granite Construction as the general contractor.

During the first phase of construction, Ortega Street will be closed between Bath and Castillo streets, the work site will be fenced and detours will be signed on surrounding streets. Crews will then continue with site preparations, including hanging noise reduction curtains, removing old pavement and structures, and relocating temporary utilities. The old bridge will be removed later this summer.

“We are very pleased to begin replacing the Ortega Street Bridge, originally built in 1915,” said Joshua Haggmark, principal civil engineer at the city of Santa Barbara. “In addition to the needed safety improvements, the new bridge will be longer. This will increase water flow under the bridge and reduce the potential for neighborhood flooding. Mission Creek will also have habitat improvements with the removal of old, concrete creek walls and the installation of native plants.”

Construction on the Ortega Street Bridge Replacement Project will continue through the first quarter of 2012. Deemed structurally deficient by Caltrans, the bridge must be rebuilt to meet safety requirements for earthquake standards and vehicular loads.

Since the bridge takes up the width of road, Ortega Street will be closed between Bath and Castillo streets to allow for bridge construction. Area residents will be able to enter on either side of the bridge project, and their driveway access will be maintained. Pedestrians and motorists moving through the area will be detoured to Cota, De la Guerra, Bath or Castillo streets, depending on their destination.

The majority of construction will occur weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and some nighttime construction may occur. The Ortega Street Bridge is the second bridge replacement of the overall Lower Mission Creek Restoration Plan. The bridge at Haley and De la Vina Streets was the first bridge replaced and was opened last week.

The majority of funding (88.53 percent) for the $6.8 million bridge project was obtained through a federal grant from the Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program. The remainder is from city funds, including Santa Barbara’s half-cent transportation sales tax known as Measure A.

Click here for more information, including project fact sheets in English and Spanish, or call the project helpline at 805.729.6005.

— Kirsten Ayars is a publicist.