Editor's Note: The following was submitted for publication by community member George Muteff.
From Muteff: This is a piece I had written as a Matter of Opinion to place in the Review; until the City decided to hold a Study Session in an apparent "reset". We have no idea if it was a genuine effort or if anything will come from it, but we do know that the June ballots were mailed by County Elections on Monday, May 5th. So, in an effort to deal with what we know, I'm placing the piece here to hopefully help some that may need or want the information.
On Tuesday, June 3rd, there will be a Statewide (primary) election. For us in HMB, that election will have two (2) separate and distinctly different Measures on it asking for our vote; Measure E and Measure F.
Both Measures (E & F) were placed on the June ballot by the City of HMB and both Measures (E & F) are regarding our Main Street Bridge and its future.
On February 21, 2012, this City Council passed a Resolution titled “PILARCITOS CREEK BRIDGE REPLACEMENT” (Item #9), and the City Manager and City Attorney subsequently signed that agreement on October 8, 2012. From the City Agenda staff report: “The primary goal of the project is to replace the existing structurally deficient Main Street Bridge over Pilarcitos Creek with a new structurally sound bridge...”
The initial 25 page $1.19 Million contract to replace the Bridge went to URS. Included in that contract were 8 public meetings, the first of which was in February 2013. Not included in that contract was Any mention of a structural examination of our existing Bridge or its possible Repair. This Council continued to publicly state all options were on the table.
On September 17, 2013 this Council then chose Option 2 (of 5 + 5A), despite hundreds of public pleas for Repair consideration and thousands of petition signatories requesting a forensic exam (proper Due Diligence). This Council’s decision had been made, despite their public posture, on February 21, 2012. This September 2013 meeting culminated their intentions all along and opened the flow of money toward a demolition and replacement project (CEQA/NEPA protocol).
The Main Street Bridge is approximately 80' in length and 24' in width. It was built in 1900, is an historic landmark and was unique and a first in design and construction (anywhere), using braided and twisted cable from the SF Cable cars to substantially strengthen it within the concrete.
Most will agree the existing bridge needs work. Most will also agree that due to its arch construction, with the twisted cable reinforcement contained in the concrete for additional strength and support, the bridge is pretty strong and very safe. It made it through both the 1906 earthquake and the Loma Prieta earthquake and continues to serve all comers every day, 27/7/365. Most will also agree that it has "character" and defines the northern entrance to our downtown well.
Main Street itself (from parked vehicles on the eastern side to the parked vehicles to the western side) is approximately 24 feet wide, matching the current bridge's width nicely. The northern approach to the bridge has a built-in traffic calming bend which moderates the speed of incoming traffic and has done a marvelous job of that for over 100 years.
The City proposed replacement bridge would be approximately 40+ feet wide (currently 22' + a 2' roll), will take years to get done and will cost $8 Million+, which the City is planning on funding with federal grant money (our federal taxes given back) to the tune of 88%. According to the State, bridge projects in CA average a 35% cost over-run. That should take the cost to around $11 Million after all is said and done.
You can find more information on both Measures on the City website front page (left column) @ www.hmbcity.com (under “June 2014 Special Election”)
Measure E is titled "Main Street Bridge Safety and Accessibility Act - Measure E"
Measure F is titled "Main Street Bridge Preservation Act - Measure F"
In simple language, Measure E was written by the HMB City Attorney asking voters to give the City Council free reign to do pretty much whatever they like with the current bridge, which will include demolition of the existing historic bridge and its much wider replacement.
Measure F is a stripped down version (by the HMB City Attorney) of the people's Initiative which was presented to the City for the November ballot on February 17, 2014. The Measure reads (in part); "to prohibit demolition or enlargement of the Main Street Bridge unless approved by the City Council and a majority of voters in a subsequent ballot measure."
The choices are pretty clear and very stark in contrast.
Please Vote YES On Measure F. Stop the hemorrhaging of millions of our tax dollars to outside consultants. Tell this Council that they need to work With our community to do the right thing the right way; acquire all available data before making a costly decision that will change downtown HMB forever.