Public can weigh in on Seventh Street Bridge options

02/22/2014 6:16 PM

02/22/2014 6:17 PM

The public can weigh in Monday on the alternatives government officials are considering to modernize or replace the Seventh Street Bridge, a vital link between Modesto and the county’s West Side that is showing its age after nearly a century of use.

The public can review maps and designs and talk to officials at the meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. in Tenth Street Place’s basement training room. Officials are considering three options:

• Renovate the existing two-lane bridge and build another two-lane bridge next to it. But there are challenges with this option. For instance, further analysis may show the original bridge is not worth saving because it has too many problems, or problems that cannot be fixed, such as not being able to strengthen the bridge to handle tractor-trailers, which are now banned from the structure.
• Build a four-lane bridge downriver of the existing bridge and then raze the existing bridge. This option requires buying much more right of way, such as property at the Sunrise Mobile Home Park.
• Build a four-lane bridge in stages next to the existing bridge. This option is the least expensive but would take the most time, causing the most delays for motorists.

The roughly 1,100-foot-long bridge is two lanes with no shoulders and narrow sidewalks. Officials say the bridge is safe but add that it ranks at the bottom of the California Department of Transportation’s sufficiency ratings – a 2 on a scale of zero to 100 – among all bridges in Caltrans District 10, which encompasses the Northern San Joaquin Valley and central Sierra.

Stanislaus County and Modesto are partners on the project that will modernize or replace the Seventh Street Bridge, which was constructed in 1916. The bridge is commonly known as the Lion Bridge because of the pair of concrete lions that stand guard on each side. The county is the lead agency on the project.

The project is estimated to cost $32 million to $40 million, depending on which option is chosen. Local officials expect 88 percent of the funding to come from the federal government’s highway bridge program; the city and county each would pay 6 percent of the project’s cost.

Construction could start in 2018 after all the preliminary work has been completed, including environmental work, Stanislaus County senior civil engineer David Leamon said. He said construction should take about two years.

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