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New West Mission Bay Drive bridge won’t be finished until 2023

Completion of the six-lane West Mission Bay Drive replacement bridge has been delayed from this month until early next year, San Diego officials announced.

The $150 million project is expected to ease congestion, especially on weekends and during the summer, between Mission Beach, the sports arena area and nearby onramps to Interstate 8.

City officials said last spring that four years of complicated and sometimes turbulent construction would come to an end in October, but the city announced a new timeline of early 2023 in a Facebook post on Friday.

The post said construction crews must finish building the sidewalk, safety barriers and lighting before the new bridge can open.

The redesigned bridge aims to boost the safety and enjoyment of pedestrians and bicyclists with a 12-foot-wide shared pathway located on the western edge of six vehicle lanes, three heading north and three heading south.

The pedestrian area will also include benches where residents and tourists can enjoy panoramic views of an area that has made San Diego and its beaches famous worldwide.

The project has been 25 years in the making. In 1996, Caltrans declared the previous bridge, built as a four-lane structure in the early 1950s, “functionally obsolete and structurally deficient.”

When crews broke ground on the new bridge in July 2018, the estimated completion date was late 2021. But construction was delayed by problems contractors had casting large drill holes necessary for the columns to support the new bridge.

Community leaders have praised the architectural design of the bridge, which will serve as a new entry point to Mission Beach from the south.

The bridge is expected to ease congestion for drivers heading south out of Mission Beach onto I-8. To ease congestion further, the city is widening Sports Arena Boulevard south of the bridge and widening the westbound I-8 offramp.

The new bridge may also ease traffic moving north, but it could also create a bottleneck.

The new bridge will essentially feed six lanes of northbound traffic into one of two additional bridges to the north that remain four lanes: the Ingraham Street Bridge to Pacific Beach and a second West Mission Bay Drive Bridge connecting Sunset Point with Ventura Cove and the heart of Mission Beach.

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