Bridge work to begin; detours set

Safety — both motorist and pedestrian — is the reason the City of Gilroy will rebuild three bridges that cross Miller Slough.
Old, narrow and not up to city standards, the city will close the 100F Avenue and Lewis Street bridges Friday to demolish and rebuild them. The two bridges are expected to be completed by July.
The city will also begin construction on a third bridge on Forest Street after the other two projects are completed. The entire project is scheduled to be finished in November, and is expected to cost about $1.5 million.
“They’re being redone because they’re so old — the footings are eroded; they
aren’t wide enough to handle future widenings; and for seismic reasons as well,” said Patrick Watz, construction manager for Harris and Associates, the city’s consulting firm that will work on the project.
About 80 percent of the cost of the projects will be paid with a federal bridge replacement grant.
According to Norm Allen, city/community development director, bridges in the county were examined for the grant and then ranked, with officials looking at criteria such as adequate width, condition of the bridge and amount of traffic. The three to be replaced were among a list of the most deficient in the county.
The 100F bridge was built in 1912. Although the bridges have withstood past earthquakes, they need to be brought up to code.
“They will be built to current-day codes,” said Don Nunes, senior civil engineer -for the city. “The seismic code in the old bridges is not there.” City officials are staggering :the replacements, all on the east side of the city, because ,the Forest Street bridge is part of the detour for the work on the other two bridges.
• “We can’t do all three of – them at the same time – that would cut off a whole section , of town over there,” Allen said.
• “There are other considerations of emergency vehicles as well.”
. Traffic for the IOOF bridge will be rerouted along Lewis Street to Forest Street and then to IOOF Avenue. For the Lewis bridge, traffic will redirected along Forest Street to IOOF Avenue, and then along Murray Avenue to Chestnut Street and back to Lewis Street.
City officials have notified the school district to the closures, and district officials will reroute buses accordingly, Allen said. South Valley Junior High School is located on IOOF Avenue.
The bridges will be closed to both pedestrians and motorists and will remain closed until the projects are completed, he said.
“The work area is very limited out there,” he said. “There’s no plan to put in a detour.”
The Lewis bridge will be widened from 20 feet to 50 feet, and the Forest bridge will be widened from 38 feet to 62 feet. Currently, the Lewis bridge is almost too narrow for two cars to pass in opposite directions, and Forest Street narrows considerably just before the bridge. The IOOF bridge will not be widened, Watz said.
“IOOF will have a sidewalk on it, but it will be able to accommodate future widen-ings,” he said. “On Lewis, that will allow for continuous traffic across Lewis. Forest will be pretty much widened to the existing roadway.”
City workers will take the bridges apart, but other issues, such as utilities, need to be considered as well.
“There are utilities that go across them – water, gas, sewer,” Watz said. “All those have to be relocated first.”
The Forest Street bridge also poses more of a construction challenge because the properties next to it are at different heights, Nunes said, but the result will be safer in the end.
“We’ll have nice sidewalks on either side and more pedestrian safety,” he said.
The city will also replace the rails on the Rogers Lane bridge, but is expecting only temporary closures, if any.

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