California Street bridge project delayed

The planned completion date for the California Street overpass renovations has come and gone, delayed by manufacturing and painting mistakes.

The California Street pedestrian bridge renovation has been a long time in the making. First considered in 2009 after the allocation of federal monies to refurbish the Highway 101 offramp, the upgrades began in earnest in February of this year. Initially, an anticipated completion date was set for August. Now, officials say that the pedestrian walkway should be open by mid-November, with the second half of the project — installing overhead lighting and the lighting features of the railway — scheduled for spring 2017.

Loree Pryce, construction and survey division manager with the city of Ventura, says that several factors forced the delay.

“Every piece of railing is specially made to arch over that bridge,” said Pryce. When the contractor began piecing the railing together “like a puzzle,” Pryce says that he “realized there was a measurement that was off, [which] made them have to send the panels back to the fabricator” based out of Rialto in Los Angeles County.

Another issue: Artist Michael Davis, who was chosen to create design concepts for the bridge, was unhappy with a particular color chosen when given a sample and so another color was created, a process that took two weeks, according to the city of Ventura’s Communication Manager Kelly Flanders. Note: in the original version of this story, it was erroneously reported that Pasadena based architects Moule & Polyzoides were also involved in the color selection, but the firm hasn’t been involved with the project for several years. 

The bridge project has a total project cost of $2.57 million, according to Thomas Mericle, city transportation manager with the Public Works Department. Mericle says that the city has spent $1,753,448 on the project thus far. The funds in part come from a $900,000 federal grant, while the rest come from state gas taxes and the city’s public art fund.

Pryce notes that the contractor is “eager to get this thing done.”

“This is definitely not a job where everybody’s not participating to the best of their ability,” said Pryce. “I know it’s been a long haul, but it’s going to be beautiful.”

Forest Service to privatize 52 Los Padres Forest sites

Though camping season is somewhat behind us, fans of the outdoors may have reason to protest in 2017: The U.S. Forest Service has announced the transfer of management of 52 recreational sites throughout the Los Padres National Forest to Parks Management Company, a private corporation, which officials say will result in some usage fees doubling.

Parks Management Company was one of two companies that submitted proposals. The proposal includes about a dozen Ojai and Mount Pinos spots where concessionaires already operate with fees ranging from $5 to $100.

Several local organizations are protesting the proposal. The Los Padres Forest Watch, Keep Sespe Wild and the Los Padres chapter of the Sierra Club, to name a few, have urged the public to comment on the plan by contacting the U.S. Forest Service. Of the complaints lodged against the proposal is that the Service did not properly notify the public of an open-comment period before moving forward.

Should the plan be adopted, “Overnight fees will increase at most sites, day-use fees will be charged for those who simply want to park and take an afternoon hike, and the Adventure Pass will no longer be accepted at any of them,” read a letter posted to the Los Padres Forest Watch’s website.

A decision on the new permit is expected to be made by the end of the month.

College district purchases Camarillo office

The Ventura County Community College District is packing up and rolling out from its West Ventura location and now has secured a new Camarillo location after its board of trustees voted to approve the purchase.

The new location at 761 E. Daily Drive in Camarillo is a 38,893-square-foot office building and will become the home to the District Administrative Center. The site was purchased for $7 million, with an extra $1 million allocated for moving, furniture, closing costs and other expenses.

Four tenants will net the District $272,000 in annual lease payments, and the District will save $420,000 from ending its current lease arrangement for its former location at 255 W. Stanley Ave. in Ventura.

Once the sale passes through escrow, renovations will begin, sometime around Nov. 10, according to the District.