City will study who should pay for Milligan bridge

The City Council unanimously voted for staff to research which property owners could be charged to replace a deteriorating wooden bridge.

The bridge, which connects Laguna Canyon Road to Milligan Drive and is referred to as the Milligan Drive bridge, needs replacement not repair, public works director Steve May told the council on Tuesday.

A new bridge could cost $320,000. That figure includes estimates from engineering firms AndersonPenna Partners Inc. and Geofirm as well as city and possible engineering costs.

The cost includes a design that complies with Caltrans since the bridge is in that agency's right of way, and with fire code requirements, such as being able to handle the weight of a fire engine.

Under current conditions, the bridge can't handle a full-size fire engine, said Dave Anderson, AndersonPenna executive vice president of transportation services.

City staff presented the cost estimate at a neighborhood meeting in December.

The only viable means of funding the project would be an assessment district, the staff report said. The city would be responsible for $75,000 for its property accessed by the bridge.

That leaves an estimated $245,000 to be paid by about 15 other property owners, the staff report said. The specific size of an assessment district is still to be determined.

The county replaced the bridge in 1957 when workers constructed the Laguna Canyon channel, the staff report said. Both bridge and channel are within a Caltrans right of way for Laguna Canyon Road.

About 12 parcels — five residential lots and seven city-owned properties — can be accessed from the bridge, the staff report said.

County officials have not claimed any ownership of or maintenance responsibility for the bridge, according to the staff report.

No records have been found that conclusively identify responsibility for the bridge, the staff report said. Utility operators also need to use the bridge to do their work.

The proposed bridge would be all-concrete and pre-cast, meaning workers would need to assemble and install it, Anderson said. The bridge could handle a 40,000-pound truck and is 16 feet wide, Anderson said.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman was alarmed at the bridge's size and cost.

"This seems like overkill; we just need a bridge," Iseman said. "It's too bad we can't do something more fitting for the neighborhood that would not be as expensive."

One nearby resident also questioned the estimated cost and thought the county should take some responsibility.

"I use the bridge constantly and I am totally with you [Iseman] about the cost," Adam Kaplan said. "We've gone over with Steve [May] and we also proposed finding other ways. I'm still ambivalent on how it could cost that amount. [County] workers use that bridge. They come in when it rains, clean [the channel] out and go over the bridge."

If an assessment district were formed, the city would need to own the bridge, May said.

A less-expensive bridge is not an option since the new structure would have to comply with county flood control and Caltrans requirements, City Manager John Pietig said, adding that the bridge needs to be replaced as soon as possible.

"AndersonPenna looked at different options and was sensitive to the fact it might be a financial burden to some of the property owners," Pietig said. "We're looking at ways to address that.

"We are happy to take a look at how the county could contribute."

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World