I enjoy your column and learn from it as well. Perhaps you can provide some information as to the status of the Murray Street Bridge project. I had understood that it was to be retrofitted at some point but have seen no indication that this project is on tap. Do you know anything about this?
Marty Dunn via email
A The city's Public Works Department is in the process of completing the retrofit design, negotiating and acquiring easements and applying for permits," said Chris Schneiter, assistant director of the agency. "I hope that this time next year, the project will be out to bid," he said. "We do plan on having a public meeting when these important steps are completed or its clear that they are well on their way to approval so that we can inform the public of the project details and the anticipated impacts to the public."
Caltrans to save water
Caltrans is cutting water use along state highways in the face of the state's drought. On the Central Coast, the state transportation agency is installing "smart irrigation" controllers, a recycled-water pipeline and low-flow fixtures to reduce its water use. More than 30 smart irrigation controllers will be installed at various locations along Highway 101 and Highway 1 from Santa Barbara County to Santa Cruz County. The devices can reduce water usage as much as 50 to 60 percent while monitoring plant health, water plants when absolutely necessary, turn off when rain falls and is forecast and shut off and notify the water manager whenever a system malfunction occurs.
Statewide, Caltrans owns and manages more than 30,000 acres of irrigated landscape. About 75 percent of the water the agency uses irrigates highway plants, which help reduce erosion and graffiti, and absorb pollutants in the air.
To minimize water use statewide, Caltrans no longer waters highway planting in severe drought areas of the state; is installing more efficient plumbing fixtures in its buildings; eliminated watering lawns at rest areas and office buildings except when recycled water that would be wasted is available; uses recycled water wherever possible; no longer washes state vehicles except when necessary for safety; delays nonessential landscape projects in severe drought areas until the next rainy season; and uses dust suppressants instead of water at construction sites.
This effort coincides with Caltrans' use of 700 highway electronic message signs to tell drivers there is a "Serious Drought, Help Save Water."
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