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Cabrillo Bridge expected to reopen for vehicles in early June

The Cabrillo Bridge will remain closed until at least the beginning of June, as more work to remove old wood forms, accumulated water and debris is needed on the retrofit project.

The extended closure is being attributed to “the necessary removal of more debris and water than originally thought from the confined workspace inside the bridge and gaining the necessary access to all portions of the span to install the retrofit solutions," said Cathryne Bruce-Johnson, spokeswomen for California Department of Transportation District 11.

She added that portions of the work inside the bridge had to be completed before construction could continue on the deck.

“We anticipate a June opening to traffic, with intermittent one-way closures as needed,” Bruce-Johnson said.

The bridge, which is the part of Laurel Street that crosses over state Route 163 into Balboa Park, was originally slated to open May 1. It currently allows for only pedestrians to cross on one side of the sidewalk.

The $38 million Cabrillo Bridge Retrofit and Rehabilitation project began in September 2013. The bridge closed in January.

So far, access portals and ladders to the series of enclosed rooms -- or cells -- that comprise the hollow bridge have been constructed, along with vertical and horizontal post-tensioning to seismically strengthen the bridge and 24 sheer walls ranging from 40 to 100 feet with interwoven steel matrix reinforcement.

Work also includes removal of unsound concrete and corroded steel inside and outside the bridge, asphalt surfacing, old gas and electrical lines, and old concrete from eight crown joints 5 to 20 feet wide.

A new stormwater system and deck reinforcement has been installed.

Bruce-Johnson said various work still needs to be completed, including sidewalk repairs, interior and exterior concrete repair, interior and exterior concrete rehabilitation of the abutments, installation of new catwalks for interior bridge access, removal of temporary railing barriers from Route 163, installation of exterior lighting, and paving and striping on the highway.

The entire $38 million project is expected to be completed this fall, Bruce-Johnson said. It was originally expected to be finished in the summer.

“Caltrans has been working side by side with the city of San Diego from the beginning to ensure that the work is done as efficiently and safely as possible,” Bruce-Johnson said. “Both the city and Caltrans have reached out to Balboa Park institutions to keep them apprised of developments.”

The work on the Cabrillo Bridge is a Caltrans project, in conjunction with the city of San Diego. Disney Construction Inc. is the prime contractor; Drake Curtis is the architectural historian.

The improvements to the 769-foot-long bridge are being done after emergency work in 2004 showed that the entire structure could benefit from a retrofit and rehabilitation.

The project is being funded by local and state matching funds.

Museums and businesses in the park remain open during the project work.

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