Friday, March 10, 2023

Santa Ana Bridge Replacement

On October 17, 2022 Ventura County Public Works Agency (VCPWA) hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the official opening of the new Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge.  This bridge is the first major infrastructure component of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project, and was deemed necessary due to existing deficiencies in the height and length of the bridge.  The new bridge is 50 percent longer than the old bridge, an increase that will partially restore the Ventura River’s natural channel capacity. 

The bridge was replaced to widen the river and eliminate the "bottleneck" at this location to better pass flood flows.  Widening the river at this location will improve natural sediment transport and migration habitat for the federally-endangered southern California steelhead and other species. 

The first test soon came with the flood of January 9, 2023.  Flood waters passed freely beneath the new bridge, while the old bridge may have backed up flows and potentially sustained damage.  

Santa Ana Bridge - the recently replaced bridge during the flood of Jan 9 2023
photo: Rich Reid

Santa Ana Bridge - the recently replaced bridge during the flood of Jan 9 2023
Photo: Ventura County

Diagram illustrates how the replacement Santa Ana Bridge widens the Ventura River

Overhead view of the new Santa Ana Bridge, Jan 2023

Aerial view looking upstream at Santa Ana Bridge during construction 10-9-21

The bridge replacement was planned to minimize disruption to local traffic by constructing the new bridge upstream before switching traffic and demolishing the old bridge.  Funding was provided through a grant from the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife, and construction was completed on schedule before this historic wet winter.

The new Santa Ana Bridge following the flood of Jan 9, 2023

In the news:

Santa Ana Bridge expansion will help with dam removal, Ojai Valley News June 14, 2019

New bridge is one more step toward goal of dam removal, Ojai Valley News Oct 13, 2022

Aerial photos courtesy Rich Reid