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Sandia Creek Drive bridge information presented to Fallbrook CPG

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The Oct. 18 meeting of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group included a presentation on the Sandia Creek Drive bridge replacement project.

Robert Hingtgen, who is a planner for the county's Department of Planning and Development Services and California Trout Regional Director Sandra Jacobson gave the presentation. The presentation was a non-voting item for the planning group, although no members expressed concerns.

"It will be excellent," said planning group chair Eileen Delaney. "I'm thrilled that it's coming to fruition."

The existing box culvert crossing the Santa Margarita River is considered to be the top flooding site in San Diego County. "It's an aging piece of infrastructure," Jacobson said.

The bridge will be replaced with a new steel bridge which is designed to withstand 100-year flood levels.

"This is a multi-benefit program," Jacobson said.

"They won't have to worry about flooding, and the steelhead will be able to swim," Delaney said.

California Trout, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that wild fish thrive in healthy waters. The actual purpose of the bridge replacement is to ensure migration of steelhead trout.

"This project is kind of an unusual one," Jacobson said.

"It has really robust economic benefits as well as community benefits," Jacobson said. "It alleviates the traffic congestion."

The new bridge will have three sections, which will allow for pedestrian and bicycle travel as well as motor vehicle use. Two travel lanes 12 feet wide will be complemented by two eight-foot shoulder lanes on each side. The existing bridge accommodates between 1,000 and 2,000 cars per day, and Santa Margarita Drive is also the entrance to the Santa Margarita trail which has approximately 100,000 visitors annually.

The design and permitting for the replacement bridge is fully funded. The environmental review phase will precede construction. "Right now we're still reviewing technical studies," Hingtgen said. "We're hoping to get our CEQA review completed within the next several weeks."

CEQA stands for California Environmental Quality Act. After the county completes the CEQA review the draft document will be released for public review before the final document is certified. Funding for the construction phase will also be necessary prior to the actual replacement of the bridge, and California Trout is pursuing federal and state grants and other funding.


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