The Ventura County Public Works Agency (VCPWA) commemorated the start of the Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge project with a groundbreaking ceremony on June 7 at the bridge site. The groundbreaking was attended by Ventura County Supervisor, Matt LaVere as well as representatives from California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California State Coastal Conservancy.
“The construction of the Santa Ana Bridge replacement is really the gateway to the removal of Matilija Dam,” said Glenn Shephard, Director of VCPWA-Watershed Protection. “This new, wider, longer and taller replacement bridge will enhance sediment transport, reduce the need for maintenance after major storm events, and improve migration up and down the Ventura River for the federally-endangered southern California steelhead.”
The project replaces the existing Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge with a 350‐foot‐long, three‐span bridge to be built just upstream of the existing bridge. This new bridge will not only meet current seismic standards but provide greater flow area to pass storm flows and sediment after Matilija Dam is removed and will enhance passage of endangered steelhead trout.
“Removing Matilija Dam is essential to the long-term health of the Ventura River watershed,” said Sam Schuchat, Executive Officer of California State Coastal Conservancy. “Replacing the Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge will not only improve infrastructure in the Ojai valley, it moves us significantly closer to taking down the dam.”
In addition, the new bridge will add a 4-foot-wide sidewalk across the north side of the bridge and shoulders on both sides of the road as it approaches the bridge.
“There is a lot of anticipation around the removal of the Matilija Dam and with replacement of the bridge, we can finally begin to see the plan coming to fruition,” said Supervisor LaVere. “We are excited to begin this phase of the project to not only ensure the safety of our residents in Ventura County, but our endangered wildlife as well.”
Construction of the project will cost about $11.5 million with the majority funded by grants from Proposition 1— Watershed Restoration and Proposition 68 –Southern California Steelhead Program. Design of the project was funded by the California State Coastal Conservancy, right of way acquisition was funded by the Resources Legacy Fund, and construction is funded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.