MOORLACH UPDATE — Seventh Street Bridge — April 15, 2011

On Monday afternoon I participated in an Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) press conference to announce the one-year closure of the Seventh Street Bridge on Orange County’s boundary with Long Beach.  In order to widen the San Diego (405) Freeway, the bridge’s pylons have to be relocated.  Consequently, it could not be done in halves, but has to be completely torn down and rebuilt.  The story below was in yesterday’s Long Beach Press Telegram and the San Jose Mercury News (don’t ask me why).

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As to my comment about “being a former 49er,” it means that I was a student for my entire college experience at California State University, Long Beach.  I commuted, so I know most of the routes to the campus.  Accordingly, I have empathy with those students that use this route to get to classes.  I finished my studies in December of 1977, but my diploma was issued on January 2, 1978 (and signed by Edmund G. Brown, Jr.).

Bridge set to close for a year

ROADWORK: Connector between 405 Freeway, Seventh Street will affect 30,000 commuters daily.

By Joe Segura, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH – The rush to classes at Long Beach State, or the dash to the doctor at the VA Hospital could take on dramatic dimensions for Orange County commuters with the closure of the bridge connecting the northbound San Diego (405) Freeway and westbound Seventh Street on Monday night.

The bridge is a main artery for an estimated 30,000 drivers weekdays – and they will be forced to take detours for about a year, while the northbound 405 and westbound Garden Grove (22) Freeway are reconstructed to connect carpool lanes on the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway and the 405/22.

The bridge closure, which is set for 10 p.m., does not affect eastbound Seventh Street or southbound 405 drivers.

The bridge is a link between east-west Seventh Street and the West Orange County freeways.

Northbound 405 drivers trying to go west on Seventh Street – especially those trying to reach Long Beach State or the Veterans Hospital – will be tested Tuesday.

They will need to exit south of the Seventh Street offramp at either Westminster Avenue or Seal Beach Boulevard – the latter an already heavily traveled route – or exit north of the Seventh Street offramp, on Palo Verde and Woodruff avenues or Bellflower Boulevard.

Councilman Patrick O’Donnell, whose 4th District includes the Palo Verde detour, said planning between his office, city traffic officials and the Orange County Transportation Authority has helped to put resources in place – including new traffic signals and patrol officers – to mitigate potential logjams.

The OCTA provided $1.5 million to Long Beach to reduce impacts from the detours and is funding signal synchronization on Studebaker Road and Palo Verde, upgrades to the Stearns Street on-ramp and Studebaker intersection and continual monitoring of the detour routes for roadway impacts.

OCTA, Caltrans and the project contractor collaborated with Long Beach to postpone the closure until after the Long Beach Grand Prix in order to minimize impacts to drivers and the neighboring community.

"We’re as prepared as we can be," he said Wednesday.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, an OCTA director, gave assurances this week that the project will be completed in a timely manner.

"I know how important the Seventh Street bridge is – being a former 49er," he said.

Joel Zlotnik, OCTA media manager, said there are incentives to complete the project on time, if not early: The contractor can earn $16,000 for each early day, or a maximum of $480,000; or the contractor can be fined $16,000 a day for exceeding the year’s deadline, with no maximum.

For more detour information, go to www.octa.net/WCCDetours.

joe.segura@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1274

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