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Santa Barbara’s Cabrillo Bridge Replacement Project May Continue Into 2017

City planners expect major work to be completed by the end of 2016 but utility work could continue longer and keep impacting traffic near Stearns Wharf

The Cabrillo Bridge project on Santa Barbara’s waterfront is expected to be nearly complete by the end of 2016.
The Cabrillo Bridge project on Santa Barbara’s waterfront is expected to be nearly complete by the end of 2016.      (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo )

Construction of the Cabrillo Bridge replacement project near Stearns Wharf should be complete by December 2016 — right on schedule — but Santa Barbara planners say some work could continue into 2017.

Pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles are adjusting to delays and lane closures at the busy intersection of Cabrillo Boulevard and State Street on the waterfront, where crews are working to keep one lane open in either direction, as they have since construction began in fall 2014.

City planners recently offered members of the media a tour and a construction update, explaining that the $26 million bridge project is in the second of three phases.

Work this year is focused on the mountain side of Cabrillo Boulevard Bridge over Mission Creek — which was originally built in 1913 — but that will change in early 2016, when work shifts south to the beach side of State Street, according to Kirsten Ayars of Ayars & Associates marketing firm.

After Labor Day, locals and visitors will see a new combined pedestrian and bike pathway built adjacent to the current sidewalk across Mission Creek.

Supports for the 10-foot wide walkway are already in place, along with a temporary walkway, because the existing beachside bridge will be removed in stage three.

“The goal is to keep the businesses open and tourists in the area,” Ayars said, noting some 6,000 pedestrians use the walkway daily.

One nearby business on Helena Avenue, The Mermaid's Chest antique shop, has already closed due to construction, according to its owner.

As a courtesy, construction crews have been using push and turn supports instead of loudly hammering them into the soil, said Adam Hendel, city supervising engineer for the project.

Work will be halted during the Old Spanish Days Fiesta Parade next month, and the barriers will be pulled back.

Construction crews will build a new pedestrian walkway near Stearns Wharf, which will temporarily replace a highly traveled path on State Street when Cabrillo Bridge work moves into its third and final stage in 2016. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Hendel said the new bridge will be 9 feet longer and will meet all structural and earthquake safety guidelines while increasing creek water flow, improving sidewalks and creating habitat areas for steelhead trout and tidewater goby species. 

Construction could continue into 2017, he said, since utility lines will need to be moved back.

Traffic has become even more of a headache on Lower State Street due to several simultaneous construction projects, including La Entrada de Santa Barbara hotel and retail project, which should finish around the same time as the bridge project, chief building official Andrew Stuffler said.

Sonos should complete building renovations at Mason Street and Helena Avenue in a month or so, and construction is underway at the children’s museum on State Street, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.

The city is continuing to monitor the tight parking situation related to the bridge project, which is funded mostly by a federal grant from the Highway Bridge Program and the City Streets Capital Fund.

Stuffler said Entrada construction crew members park in a lot at Anacapa and Mason streets, and the project itself will add even more parking when it’s done.

“I think the big wild card right now is the El Niño later this year,” Stuffler said of keeping construction on track despite rain this winter.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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