SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego, state and federal officials Tuesday marked the completion of the replacement of the four-lane West Mission Bay Drive Bridge, the largest bridge replacement in the city's history.
"For almost seven decades, San Diegans and visitors to our great city have been coming over this bridge to access our beautiful beaches and Mission Bay, and now we have a structure that makes it a safer and more enjoyable trip," said Mayor Todd Gloria.
"A project like this requires the highest levels of engineering and creativity to complete, along with a monumental investment from our federal government."
The original bridge, which connected the Ocean Beach/Midway area with Mission Bay over the San Diego River channel, was built in 1950 and had been declared "functionally obsolete" when the replacement project began in 2018.
The new bridge features two parallel structures, each with three lanes going one direction that "improve safety conditions for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians on this busy corridor," a city statement reads.
Gloria was joined at the bridge Tuesday morning by Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt, and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu.
Work on the bridge was largely funded through the Federal Highway Administration Bridge Program, which provided around $138 million toward the $148 million project, including $80 million from President Joe Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
"Bridges connect us -- to one another and to economic opportunity," said Landrieu, senior advisor to the president. "Investing in American bridges and other infrastructure improves traffic flow, safety, resilience, and our economic competitiveness.
"The West Mission Bay Drive Bridge project is further proof that President Biden's investments in our infrastructure are making us stronger," he said.
To allow for continued access to West Mission Bay Drive during the project, the northbound structure was built first, and two lanes of traffic in each direction were diverted there. After traffic was moved from the old bridge, it was torn down and the southbound bridge was built. Partial traffic access was provided on both sides of the bridge simultaneously starting in December 2022.
"It's not every day that a new and improved bridge opens in the district I represent," said Peters. "This project improves a vital connection to one of San Diego's most visited beach communities."
In addition to expanding the travel lanes from four to six, the project creates new traffic signals and protected bike lanes separated by a barrier on both sides of the bridge, along with a separate pedestrian path.
"The old bridge has been replaced with new state-of-the-art infrastructure that can accommodate traffic for years to come," said Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell, representing the area in District 2.
"More importantly, the new bridge will allow drivers, pedestrians, scooters, and bicyclists an easier, and safer route to the beaches in District 2."
The bridge crosses over the San Diego River and sensitive animal habitats. An environmental mitigation plan for the project included 12 acres of wetland restoration at two sites and a noise-abatement program to protect avian species and marine mammals during the construction phases.