■ Mary Ann Morris / Editor
The Stetson Bridge, which has been listed as one of the worst bridges in Riverside County by uglybridges.com, is scheduled for a $1.3 million facelift — most of which will be covered by federal grant money.
The bridge, originally built in 1940 from wooden beams and concrete, is two lanes, and last received a touch-up in 1981 in the form of reconstruction. It’s 45-feet long and spans over the Hemet Channel, east of Hemet-Ryan Airport. The bridge is beginning to fall apart – splintering and cracking are evident. And, to ensure the safety of vehicles crossing the bridge, only vehicles weighing less than six tons are permitted to cross. Heavier vehicles must take an alternate route.
A $250,000 contract was awarded to Michael Baker Corporation, an engineering, planning and consulting firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to complete the design and permitting process to build a box culvert, which will function as a two-lane bridge but will be able to accommodate four lanes while allowing water to flow underneath.
The city of Hemet was awarded $955,000 from the Federal Highway Bridge Replacement Program in 2012, and will seek funding for the difference in cost. Planning is underway and construction may begin later this year and is expected to last through spring 2018, weather permitting.
The construction would require rerouting Stetson Avenue with detours on Florida Avenue and Domenigoni Parkway.
While interim city Engineer Nino Abad says the construction is slated for the 2018-19 fiscal year, he is hoping to begin the project sooner, perhaps by shifting funds from elsewhere in the budget and repaying the borrowed funds when the federal funding becomes available.