Georgia St. Bridge: Bright Future With $11M in Federal Funding

A historic but hazardous bridge in North Park is about to undergo a major overhaul.

It will cost more than $11 million – money coming from Uncle Sam to benefit the city of San Diego.

The Georgia Street Bridge was built in 1914 in one of the city's earliest suburbs, crossing over busy University Avenue where streetcars once traveled.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

But now, ten decades have taken their toll.

Finally, just ahead, is a promising new lease on life in a community that treasures its civic past.

"It's overdue – way overdue – as a landmark,” says North Park resident Jeff Jorgenson. “It's been patched and patched and patched. I don't know what the original bridge would look like. And it probably had some nice columns that have probably been filled in over the years to strengthen it."

But patchwork won't cut it anymore.

The bridge’s basic design is "Romanesque Spandrel Arch" with "Mission Revival" styling.

But Cal Trans classified the structure as "deficient" in 2011, and again last year.

Not only does it need seismic and structural retrofits, but upgrades to the crosswalks and byways along University Avenue beneath it, to help safeguard motorists and pedestrians.

"That's very dangerous down there,” Sonja Helton said of University Avenue and its sidewalks while crossing Georgia Street at the bridge during the noon hour Monday. “So many people come and walk under the bridge."

Fortunately, the west-to-east uphill and downhill footpaths connecting to the north-south span offers a traffic-free route for Roosevelt Middle School students on their way to and from classes.

Over the years, the bridge has become ingrained in countless daily patterns of life, leisure and business throughout North Park.

When construction starts in August, a lot of that figures to be disrupted for more than a year, until the projected – funded by the Federal Highway Administration with Cal Trans as the overseeing agency – is completed.

Creatures of habit: be forewarned.

"I use this quite a bit, actually, for walking to stores down there or down on University Avenue,” longtime resident Randy Walsh said in an interview. “And I walk this way when I need a little extra cardio."

It’s a high-angle vista point for those with the time to stop and take in the scenery stretching from Mission Hills all the way east to the foothills and mountains of East County.

"We live in a beautiful area here,” enthused Jeff Smith, a third-generation San Diegan. “Where else in the middle of a city do you get a view like this? I mean, it's amazing…definitely a gem in our neighborhood."

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