PACIFICA -- Caltrans has launched a two-year bridge-replacement project that is already having significant effects on traffic along the southern boundary of Pacifica.

The 60-year-old bridge over San Pedro Creek on Highway 1 is too low, making it susceptible to flooding in major winter storms, and no longer meets seismic standards, said Caltrans spokeswoman Gidget Navarro.

The project began in May, and traffic was diverted west onto a bridge at San Pedro Avenue in June. The new bridge is expected to open to traffic by October 2015, Navarro said, and the project will wrap up by 2016. Federal, state and county transportation funds are paying for the roughly $10 million initiative.

San Pedro Creek provides habitat for the California red-legged frog and Central California Coast steelhead trout, both of which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, so construction will be limited from October to April to avoid harming the animals.

Some businesses at Pedro Point Shopping Center, a strip mall between San Pedro Avenue and Pacifica State Beach, say the project has disrupted traffic, but it hasn't deterred customers in a significant way.

Employees at Bruce Ross & Company Salon and Nor Cal Surf Shop said business has actually picked up recently, possibly because the detour makes the shopping center more visible to southbound motorists.


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Traffic has been heaviest on weekends, employees said, when locals and tourists head to the beach. Two employees said customers are reporting backups stretching all the way to Sharp Park Road, 2.5 miles north of the shopping center.

"A lot of locals are upset about it," said Jameson Kenway, assistant manager of Nor Cal Surf Shop.

Lisa Piccinini, owner of The Point Pizza and Pasta, said she hopes the traffic jams will ease with time.

"Once people get used to it," she said, "it might get better."

Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at Twitter.com/kinneytimes.