[Editor's note: The following was submitted by Dave Cresson, President, Half Moon Bay History Association. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, email to email@example.com.]
It is with real sadness that we watched as City Council members voted our historic bridge into destruction last week. Remarkably, over a hundred people took their evening hours to personally go to that City Council meeting. They all endorsed a plan to fix the bridge — rather than build a new one.
Many History Association members and interested citizens wrote notes with their opinions about replacing the bridge. All favored testing the bridge or saving the bridge. Those notes were all forwarded to the City Council members, just before last week’s meeting.
This all started when the City Engineer (a civil engineer) reported that the bridge was old and weak and in danger of collapse – mentioning tsunamis, dam breaks, and earthquakes. The paper also said that millions of federal dollars were available to pay for a new, big bridge. The report mentioned the inconvenience of years of heavy construction, traffic closures, and detours around downtown Half Moon Bay.
The community was astonished and alarmed. They pleaded for independent opinions and for structural tests to see if the danger was real. They wondered why the Council was not particularly concerned about the economic losses to businesses and to the community.
Structural engineers didn’t agree with the City Engineer. Several offered professional opinions that the bridge is most likely safe right now. Repairs could be done to assure future safety. Even Caltrans Bridge Inspectors said that the bridge is not a likely risk of collapse.
Then the community submitted a formal plan to fix the bridge. It was written by professionals. That work was donated to help the City--- Design. Costs. Timing. The plan to fix the bridge was dismissed. By the City staff, City Engineers, and then by the City Council.
After a huge audience had spoken to save the bridge, City Council voted (4 to 1) to demolish it.
They had just heard again that ..:
· Replacing the bridge will cost at least $7 Million taxpayer dollars. Millions more lost to the business community.
(Fix it would cost about $1.5 Million.)
· Replacement requires heavy construction and closing the bridge - detouring traffic for at least one summer.
(Fixing it might not close it at all. Or it might close two or three weeks in the winter.)
· Building a new bridge means the historic bridge will be lost.
(Once gone this century-old reminder of our past will be gone forever.)
The Coastal Commission and others will likely get involved and entangled in legal issues about historic preservation and environmental impacts. Time and money are being wasted on all sides. . It would have been so simple to easily test and presumably save it.
We keep wondering why.