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While You Slept, Monsters Ate the La Fonda Bridge

Well, it looked like that as construction workers with giant prehistoric-looking machines crashed down the bridge over Highway 1 connecting Harbor High to the Prospect Heights neighborhood on the other side of the freeway.

How do you take down a 64-year-old bridge that has survived big earthquakes and carries water and gas lines over Highway 1, not to mention lords over a traffic crunch of 100,000 cars a day? 

Not with dynamite, as you might expect, but with a giant machine invented in 1966 called a Ho-Ram, which while it is working seems as exotic as the Mars rover.

The colossal air hammer mounted on a Caterpiller truck looks prehistoric as it drops its nose down on the cement with a ground-shaking thud and seems to be munching on the surfaces. It pounds big holes, which fall down onto Highway 1 and are later scooped up by men driving tractors and carrying shovels and brooms.

The La Fonda bridge, which connects the Prospect Heights neighborhood to the ocean side of Santa Cruz, . It's part of a $21 million project to widen the highway and build a bigger bridge with bike lanes and sidewalks, which are most important to kids on each side of the freeway who attend schools including Harbor High School and Delaveaga Elementary.

Southbound traffic was diverted through detours at Morrissey Boulevard and Soquel Drive Monday night and will continue tonight. Then, the Northbound lanes will be closed Aug. 13 and 14. Crews will work on only half the bridge each week. 

County Transportation Planner Kim Schultz, who watched the destruction phase of the construction project, said they did tests with bores and X-rays to make sure that the bridge would hold from its center while half was gone.

So what did it look like while you slept, or tried to, in that neighborhood? 

Check the photos and videos on the right.

Cathy P. August 07, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Drove under the northbound section about 6am this morning, thankfully no impact on the commute that early. It did look bizarre though, seeing the southbound section missing. Looks like all is going well.
Peking August 07, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Great videos and still photos. These will become important records for the future.
Ethan Bearman August 07, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Thanks for covering this for us Brad. Can't wait for this construction to finish...
Linda Campbell August 07, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Thank you, Brad. I didn't realize our little bridge was so photogenic at night!
Brad Kava (Editor) August 07, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Hey, was my headline too goofy? I really enjoyed watching this..it's something I've never seen and made me feel like a kid playing with trucks and dinosaurs. But I wrote the story at 4 a.m. after being up all night...not sure if it's too flippant.
Maria Grusauskas August 07, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Flippant is such a strange word. I think this is a great bed time story to read to local kids who are still in their dinosaur and truck stage. You wrote this for them, while they were sleeping and dreaming about the mars rover. "Not with dynamite, as you might expect, but with a giant machine invented in 1966 called a Ho-Ram, which while it is working seems as exotic as the Mars rover."!!! ya!!!
Kim Shultz August 07, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Great documentation in story and picture/video. Thanks for capture this history. For the record, this project is being managed by the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) through consultant construction engineers (Parsons Brinkcerhoff) with oversight and support from Caltrans.
RTC Staff August 07, 2012 at 10:46 PM
For more information about the Highway 1 Soquel/Morrissey Auxiliary Lane project including the La Fonda Bridge demolition and school transportation programs for DeLaveaga Elementary and Harbor High schools, please visit the project page on the RTC website: http://sccrtc.org/projects/streets-highways/highway-1-aux-lanes/
Shannon Burkey August 07, 2012 at 11:21 PM
What a cool video! Thanks for staying up late and covering it Brad!
Cathy P. August 08, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Hey Brad, you done good! Flippant it ain't...
Brad Kava (Editor) August 08, 2012 at 04:21 AM
You can read it in the Sentinel too....tomorrow.
Tom Fitzgerald August 08, 2012 at 06:39 AM
Nice dig! Although not as spectacular maybe you’ll want to cover the falsework erection as well.
Brad Kava (Editor) August 08, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Tom..what is the falsework erection and when can I cover?
Cathy P. August 08, 2012 at 05:18 PM
ROFL!!!

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