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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 5:19 am | Fair 49º


Santa Barbara’s New Cota Street Bridge Opens to Public

After nearly year-long closure, downtown span finally replaced

The $5 million project to replace the Cota Street bridge over MIssion Creek in downtown Santa Barbara was completed ahead of schedule this week.
The $5 million project to replace the Cota Street bridge over MIssion Creek in downtown Santa Barbara was completed ahead of schedule this week. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The Cota Street bridge over Mission Creek in downtown Santa Barbara reopened Thursday to motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in a replacement project city officials touted as finishing ahead of schedule.

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and all City Council members save for one christened the revamped thoroughfare Thursday afternoon with a ribbon cutting and a few words of thanks to neighbors who put up with pile-driving and more for nearly a year.

Members of the Santa Barbara City Council cut the ribbon signaling completion of the Cota Street bridge in downtown Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
Members of the Santa Barbara City Council cut the ribbon signaling completion of the Cota Street bridge in downtown Santa Barbara. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The city began the $5 million bridge-replacement project last March, but Schneider said hardworking Granite Construction, Inc. crews finished the work a couple months ahead of schedule.

“What a beautiful day,” the mayor said, noting one positive of drought was that construction can continue during winter. “Your patience and cooperation is really appreciated.”

Schneider called the bridge an excellent example of how local dollars can leverage federal funds, since the Federal Highway Bridge Program paid for 88 percent of the project.

This was the fifth bridge replaced in Santa Barbara in the last four years using those funds. Construction was continuing this week to replace Cabrillo Boulevard and Mason Street bridges.

Like the others, the Cota Street Bridge was deemed structurally deficient and needed to be replaced to meet current Caltrans standards. 

The Cota project was designed to alleviate flooding and improve water flow in Mission Creek, which was made eight feet wider.

Supervising city engineer Tim Gaasch said everything was complete Thursday except landscaping, including better lighting to improve safety in the area.

Santa Barbara also still needs to sell three bridge-adjacent homes the city had to buy in order to replace the bridge.

All proceeds from home sales will go toward future bridge projects, Gaasch said.

The three small homes — two on Cota Street and one facing Bath Street — were unoccupied this week and going for $650,000 to $695,000, listed with Goodwin & Thyne Properties.

Gaasch said crews had to knock down about 30 feet from one of the homes, which was where they got the added eight feet.

Five other bridge replacement projects are in the design phase, but Schneider said officials were happy to celebrate the opening of Cota Street, a popular thoroughfare leading into downtown.

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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