Answer In A Breeze

In March 2007, City Council launched a new Downtown Specific Plan that included future upgrades to the bridge.

Question. What ever happened to the fancy lights proposed on the new C-Street pedestrian overpass?

I take the overpass every day and have to laugh remembering that it was delayed because the barrier color was not “right”. It’s design (small holes acting as a filter) capture so much dirt you can’t tell what color it is. 🙂

Ed Melinn

Answer by Burris DeBenning:

Good question Ed! A lot of residents have been wondering when the bridge will be finished.

The Breeze got ahold of the City’s Public Works Engineering Division to find out the latest. City officials are eager to wrap up the work, but say that there have been some unforeseen delays, like the one Ed mentioned about the color scheme. First, we should refresh our readers as to why the City believes the construction is important.

Since it’s cutting the City’s oceanfront off from the downtown core, the 101 has deprived City of a vital economic corridor. For decades, the only link between the Promenade and downtown was the hazardous and narrow sidewalks on the California Street overpass. There was no easy access for cyclists, and pedestrians had to walk next to low railings, over which anyone could easily have fallen to the busy freeway below. Most would agree the bridge was a bit of an eye sore, certainly not inducing to the drivers that whizzed by the California Street exit in daily estimated 91,000 vehicles per day, according to Caltrans.

In March 2007, City Council launched a new Downtown Specific Plan that included future upgrades to the bridge to make it more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, link downtown and the waterfront, and improve the bridge’s aesthetics to conform with the City’s seaside ambiance. New bridge enhancements would include widening of the sidewalks to accommodate walkers and bikers, higher decorative barriers to replace the low railings and new lighting fixtures for safer and more eye-pleasing illumination. Unfortunately, the national economic downturn and the City’s belt tightening over several years caused the project to be deferred. In early 2016, construction got underway.

Mayor Erik Nasarenko said of the endeavor, “This project connects two of Ventura’s greatest assets and economic drivers, our historic downtown and the Pacific Ocean. Creating a more walkable environment encourages pedestrians to explore downtown and patronize businesses.”

The original construction timeline forecasted completion by August 2016, but you know what they say about the best-laid plans. In the summer and fall of 2016, the project was delayed because the fabricator of the sidewalk barriers used improper measurements in the manufacturing process, forcing total re-dos. At the same time, the design artist changed the barrier color causing a further two-week delay. With these changes, City Public Works moved the completion date to November 2017. However, “the ongoing delays are due to unforeseen issues such as the lights. They are required to be built at a Caltrans approved audited facility which took a significant amount of time to complete this process,” said City Construction Manager, Loree Pryce. This requirement is necessary to ensure that the manufacturer will conform to strict Caltrans design standards during fabrication of the light pole structure.

The City states it is doing everything possible to expedite the completion by having regular weekly contact with Caltrans and the contractors. The latest estimate is Summer 2018, when both sides will have tall barriers and new lights. Presently, only the west side of the bridge has barrier panels. The City’s objective is that the $2.7 million upgrade, which is funded almost entirely by outside funding and grants, will create and optimize economic development by drawing the public to support surrounding businesses through this corridor connecting historic downtown with California Street Plaza, the pier and promenade.

“In addition,” said Pryce, “the raised height of the new railing will provide safety to pedestrians and cyclists using the bridge.” Pedestrians and cyclists should notice a safer environment with significantly improved lighting and attractive “kelp” railing panels designed by Southern California artist Michael Davis.

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