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Davis, California

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Reconstruction on La Rue Road Bridge is now complete

The bridge is now seismically sound and safe

Visitors of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden can stroll through the seismically sound completed La Rue Road Bridge, which includes two protected sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes and wider lanes for car traffic. 

According to the Interactive Map on the UC Davis Design and Consideration Management website, the project cost of the La Rue Road Replacement Bridge was approximately $12.8 million. 

CH2M Hill Inc., now acquired by Jacobs Engineering Group, is listed as the designer. 

Specializing in earthwork grading, damage, repair and restoration, Gordon N. Ball Inc., a company from Alamo, CA became the contractor for this project, with a bid of $6,755,000, according to their website

“The bridge also features an artistic steel arch that smooths out the more vertical and horizontal lines of the bridge, forming a graceful visual connection between both banks,” said Andrew Fulks, the assistant director of the Arboretum and Public Garden, via email. 

This arch, constructed from COR-TEN steel, was designed by Landscape Architect Christina DeMartini Reyes. 

According to an article published by UC Davis, Reyes remained cognizant of an old concrete bridge—commonly referred to as the “old Putah Creek bridge” or “old A Street bridge”—when conceptualizing the redesign and reconstruction of the La Rue Road bridge. 

“Our campus landscape architect had the idea of the steel arches as an accent and it was approved by all,” said Kurt Wengler, the associate director of engineering at UC Davis design and construction management, via email. “The gentle arch of the bridge itself was chosen to help break up the straight lines of the bridge deck, and the monument columns announce the entry points to the bridge without taking away from the clean lines of the deck.” 

Wengler also said that simplicity of the new design was intended to augment the scenic landscape of the Arboretum. The selection of pathway paving and finishes, choice of railings on the bridge and pathways and treatment of slopes and waterway banks were an effort to amplify the natural beauty of the space. 

“Maintaining the ‘Arboretum Experience’ was paramount in our designs,” Wengler said.

Katie Hetrick, a senior communications manager of finance, operations, and administration, said via email that landscape features have not yet been completed.  

“Landscape features […] will begin soon and further enhance the Arboretum’s collections on either side of the bridge which include the campus’ conifer collection, rebud collection, and California Foothills collection,” Hetrick said. “Planting is planned to take place this spring.”

Associate Vice Chancellor and University Architect Jim Carroll said via email that the project endured significant obstacles. 

“Most of the complex issues arose in response to the project site itself,” Carroll said. “California has stringent requirements for construction work within a wildlife zone, and the University’s goals for the continuity of the Arboretum operations were important and well-documented, with safety and environmental considerations being paramount.”

Wengler noted one specific instance when a black phoebe bird laid an egg under the bridge, during which work had to be halted for about six weeks. 

“I can personally say that my favorite part of working on this project was seeing the new Arboretum paths completed,” said Emily Griswold, the director of GATEways horticulture and teaching gardens at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, via email. “After years of planning and then enduring the trauma of major construction, seeing the quality of improvements is tremendously gratifying.” 
Written by: Aarya Gupta — campus@theaggie.org

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