After listening to angry residents and downtown merchants while discussing for nearly six hours what action to take to best solve Half Moon Bay’s Main Street Bridge problem, the City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to demolish the 113-year-old structure.
The bridge is structurally unsafe and the council had several options to vote on — including the rehabilitation of the structure — before opting to tear it down and replace it with a new one. Permitting, however, will likely span the next two years and construction will not likely start until 2016, said Councilman Allan Alifano, who voted against demolishing it.
Alifano favored an option to rehabilitate the bridge but also wanted staff to take more time to see how feasible the option might be before the final vote was made.
“I think we could have made a more informed decision if we had more information. My goal was to get staff to do more analysis,” Alifano told the Daily Journal Wednesday.
Most merchants and residents, about 25, who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting favored a rehabilitation alternative rather than demolition. Many said that tearing down the structure in one stage could hurt downtown business since it is the main artery into downtown.
But Alifano said locals on the coast will not be deterred to go downtown with the bridge closed and that tourists will be able to figure out how to access the business district.
Vice Mayor John Muller said rehabilitation may have ended up costing the city more down the road depending on the state of the seismically-unsafe structure.
“I don’t want it to turn into a money pit,” he told the Daily Journal.
The cost to replace the bridge will be about $7 million and will be paid for in part by Federal Highway Administration funds, Muller said.
“The opposition was solid but we made a decision for the future,” he said.
The council did amend the option to demolish and replace to include temporary crossings during construction, however.
“If we repaired it, there would be no temporary crossing,” Mayor Rick Kowalczyk said.
He said it was an emotional decision and a “really tough call.”
He voted to replace, however, because repairing the bridge would not permanently solve its safety risk.
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