Murals on new Antlers Bridge raise concerns for some


LAKEHEAD, Calif. - Driving along Interstate 5, they're easy to spot. Four large fish murals can be seen on the side of the new Antlers Bridge project near Lakehead.

However, once the old bridge is demolished, cars won't be able to see the murals. Which has some people in Shasta County wondering, why even bother spending money on it?

"It really looks nice. It makes the bridge look a lot nicer," Rick Toland of Lakehead said.

"Nobody on the road is gonna see it. But it is pretty," Gary Maxwell of Lakehead added.

According to Caltrans, the entire bridge project from construction to demolition is estimated at $125 million.

Eric Akana, project manager for Caltrans, said $250,000 of the budget went into the aesthetics of the bridge including the rock detailing and the fish art. That's less than half a percent of the total cost of the project.

"This particular project took advantage of some toll credit so now it's being reimbursed and 100 percent federal funding," Akana said.

The federal money was allocated for the project in 2009 and has already been set aside to complete the bridge, Akana added. Plus, it's an investment to the community.

"It's such a large structure it would be poor stewardship to not consider architecture in something like this on a bridge this size that's gonna be here for over 100 years," Akana said.

The amount of money spent on the murals is raising some eyebrows. It has some wondering, why spend so much money on a mural that people can't see when the old bridge is gone?

"Well, traffic should keep their eyes on the road anyway," Akana said laughing.

He's confident that thousands of people will get to enjoy the murals because many boaters, swimmers, and water skiers frequent the area.

"Well anybody in a boat will be able to see it real good and driving around the back road there you'll be able to see it," Rick Tolan agreed.

"Well you can go down the boat ramp and see it... If there's ever water again," Gary Maxwell also said.

The bridge is currently one year behind schedule. According to Caltrans, the complete project from construction to demolition is expected to be completed by November or December 2016.

"Well there's still quite a few things they've got several segments to complete and then they'll do about 4-5 months of deck and approach work and then they'll jump into the demolition of the existing bridge," Akana explained.

Caltrans said it hopes to open the new bridge to traffic by September.

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