With brightly colored balloons and considerable fanfare, Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and a host of City Hall officials celebrated the grand opening of the new and improved Ortega Street Bridge, located near Bath and Ortega streets. Construction finished two months earlier than scheduled and weighed in at the originally estimated $6.8 million. The new bridge is 19 feet longer than the previous one and was designed to help Mission Creek handle the occasional winter floods that tend to jump the narrow confines of the channel by Ortega Street. Nearly 90 percent of the funding came from the federal government; some of the money was used to make the creek more habitable to endangered steelhead trout so they can migrate north for spawning during winter storms.


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