Posted by: cantmisssd | February 24, 2010

First Avenue Bridge

This week, after 15 months of refurbishing, the historical First Avenue Bridge reopened in Bankers Hill. “The project included rehabilitating the deck, removing lead paint, installing historically correct street lighting and painting the structure its original bronze color. It now meets California earthquake standards” which is nice given how long a trip it would be if the bridge collapsed under you.

Back in 1901, San Diego (among other places) started delving into the world of issuing municipal bonds for public works projects. This was extended and clarified by the Improvement Act of 1911, which set out the guidelines for assessing specific communities for projects that would serve the public good like streets, bridges, etc. This led to a number of expeditions into better infrastructure all over town, including the First Avenue Bridge.

This was no small bit of engineering, because Maple Canyon is a steep and deep canyon that needed to be spanned in order to get people between Downtown and Hillcrest. It was one of the later endeavors under the project, going up in 1931 with funding drawn from the neighborhoods that stood to benefit. Clearly this was one that people were pretty pleased about, because it’s known (in delightful Marxist fashion) as the People’s Bridge and lists all the primary contributors, as well as the R.E. Hazard Contracting Co. (of Hazard Center fame). And because I’m a nerd even beyond writing this blog, I should also note that I’m a sucker for the simplicity of the Hinged Truss Arch design for the only steel-arch bridge in San Diego, not least of all because it takes me back to old school roller coaster designs.

When you drive over it, you barely notice a thing. But like most things worth noticing in Bankers Hill, when you take a leisurely walk around, it sneaks up on you and turns out to be pretty awesome.


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