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Public officials, engineers, contractors and even a few disinterested citizens celebrated the completion of the Cypress Avenue bridge in Redding on Thursday afternoon.
Although the bridge opened to automobile, bicycle and pedestrian traffic about two months ago, Redding delayed the ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony while waiting for dry weather.
Mayor Missy McArthur declared the replacement of a major bridge “a rare event for any city.”
“Despite all the inconveniences, I think we can all agree it was worth it,” McArthur said in reference to the numerous detours and delays. She thanked everyone, especially area business owners affected by the construction, for their patience.
The new bridge across the Sacramento River is 1,000 feet long and 120 feet wide. The surface contains three lanes of traffic in each direction, as well as a bike lane and sidewalk in each direction. Eight “torches” provide an artistic touch, especially when lit at night, and “patios” provide pedestrians with places to pause and enjoy the views.
“The goal was to have a bridge that is not only functional, but also a monument for 70 years,” City Manager Kurt Starman explained.
The previous bridge was actually two bridges, one built in 1948 and one in 1968 as part of the state highway system. They provided two traffic lanes and one narrow sidewalk. City engineers concluded about 15 years ago that the structures were functionally obsolete, meaning seismically unsafe, and too narrow for automobiles, cyclists and pedestrians. Preliminary design work and environmental studies began in 1999 and were followed by four years of engineering and design. After the city lined up financing and permits from other governmental agencies, construction commenced in April of 2007.
The city and contractor Kiewit West Infrastructure of Vancouver, Washington, missed the target completion date of December 2010 by only two months because wet weather in the fall and winter delayed final phases, according to Jon McCain, the city’s project manager. Considering all the project’s complexity, a two-month delay was not much.
The project involved not only replacing two bridges, but replacing a 24-inch water main and an 18-inch sewer main, and accommodating major telephone and electric lines within the structure – all while keeping traffic flowing and staying out of the river for environmental purposes from April 15 to October 15 of every year.
“The challenges all begin with the tight work space,” McClain said. When the project started, businesses hugged all four corners of the project location. One business eventually relocated, providing a touch of breathing room. Still, noted McClain, “We had the constraint of keeping two lanes of traffic open at all times.”
The new bridge cost $62 million, of which federal bridge replacement funds, passed through Caltrans, paid 88.5 percent. Many entities had a hand in the project, including construction manager PB Americas of Sacramento, designers and engineers TY Lin International and CH2M Hill, and North State Resources, which handled early environmental analysis.
During the design phase, people had very strong opinions of what the bridge should look like, and pleasing everyone seemed impossible, McClain recalled. However, he said he has not heard a single gripe about the torches, which are clearly the bridge’s most distinctive feature.
Caltrans District 2 Director John Bulinski called the project an example of “the collective transportation vision we have for this region.” He cited as other examples the overhauled Bonnyview Road parkway, the Dana-to-Downtown project on Highway 44, the planned widening of Interstate 5 through Redding, and the proposed interchange at I-5 and Oasis Road.
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