NOGALES, Ariz. – There’s a new $4M bridge being built here and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District is overseeing its construction, which began March 30.
“This project has a big history,” said Rudy Molera, District 2 supervisor for Santa Cruz County. “The supervisor before me got the project going. I inherited it and, with the help of a great staff and the help of the Corps of Engineers, we are now where we’re at.”
The overall project has two distinct features - a flood-warning system in Mexico and the United States and channel and International Outfall Interceptor construction at Chula Vista, Ariz. The project was born of urbanization in the twin cities of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona. With a combined population of 400,000, runoff into the Nogales Wash from Mexico has increased, causing flood and erosion problems. During the course of construction in the channel of the flood risk management structure, the Corps removed the bridge over the Wash to the Chula Vista neighborhood.
With the bridge removed, residents needed to drive a more circuitous route to get into and out of the area and emergency responders had a longer course to reach the area. However, complications prevented the District from replacing the bridge until now. With the various obstacles cleared, members of the LA District are ready to complete the work.
“The project will consist of constructing a two-span, I-girder concrete bridge, install associated road base and approach slabs, and placing grouted riprap both upstream and downstream of the project in the channel,” said Drew Savage, the District’s project manager. “The community will get a restored connection to Old Tucson Highway over Nogales Wash - in particular we will be reconnecting the local fire department to neighboring residences and businesses.”
Work on the new span reconnecting the neighborhood to Old Tucson Highway should take about six and a half months. However, Joshua Marks, project manager for West Point Contracting – the District’s contractor for the project – said the time may be extended because the work extends into the monsoon.
“A lot of our work is in the Wash and, at different points throughout the year, we have very high flows within the Wash,” explained Marks. “We have a pumping setup where the normal flows are diverted around the job; however, during heavy flows, our pumping setup won’t be able to handle that and the monsoons could severely impact the project.”
Members of the District are glad the project is underway and are looking forward to restoring residents’ access.
“Although the project has seen many setbacks, cost overruns, and construction disputes, the project partner has been very gracious, patient and easy to work with,” said Savage. “It is important that we complete this bridge not only to provide the transportation connection to the community, but so we also uphold our commitment to the sponsor to do what we committed to do.”