Dana Point – The South Orange County Wastewater Authority (SOCWA) announced today that March 18, 2016, they will close the AWMA Bridge in Aliso Viejo for safety reasons. The bridge provides the County’s access to Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints of Laguna Niguel, and Wood Canyon Elementary School in Aliso Viejo. The bridge will be closed indefinitely and alternative access to the area can be made via Wood Canyon Drive and Knollwood in the City of Aliso Viejo.
“As the owner of the AWMA Road Bridge, we have grave public safety concerns regarding the substandard condition of the bridge”, said Mike Dunbar, SOCWA Board President. “Our community deserves a bridge that is strong enough for emergency vehicles. The public must have safe access for both the pedestrians and vehicles entering the County’s Aliso and Wood Canyon Park. The bridge is not safe”, said SOCWA Board Member Toni Iseman.
The use of the AWMA Bridge and the AWMA Road has changed significantly since constructed in 1979. Both were originally used exclusively by AWMA employees and contractors. With the opening of the Park to the public in the mid-1980s, the bridge and the immediately-adjacent section of AWMA Road became the primary access and entry point for County Park users. “I’m concerned that the intersection of pedestrian, bike and vehicles traveling over the bridge creates a safety conflict for park users, and that is unacceptable”, said SOCWA Board Member Rick Erkeneff.
“We have not come to this decision lightly. We have been in talks with the County for two years about partnering in a solution”, said Mike Dunbar. “The ‘Bridge Plan’ was up for consideration by the County Board of Supervisors on March 3, 2015, but was tabled and never brought back; that was a disappointment”, said Mike Dunbar. The negotiated Bridge Plan provides the process and the steps that will ensure the bridge is brought up to current standards, becoming a safe access point for the mix of vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians entering the area.
The County originally estimated the bridge replacement would cost $3.8 million, and SOCWA has been working diligently with all of the stakeholders to find a solution. SOCWA offered the County $1 million dollars to fund the Bridge Plan. Read about the Bridge Plan at:
Until an agreement can be reached to provide continued safe public access to the County Park and the surrounding community, SOCWA is closing this unsafe access point.
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