Construction giant Urban Construction Corp. announced Tuesday that it has completed the first phase of a $5 million construction project to create the city’s first fully-functional underground river, a first in the world.
The company will use a high-speed rail link that will bring the river to the edge of downtown San Diego.
“It’s a great milestone,” said Dan Miller, Urban Construction’s chief operating officer.
“We are moving into the next phase of the city that has to meet the challenges of a changing environment, of our expanding population, of climate change and of infrastructure.”
The city is also adding the San Diego River Walk, which will open in 2020 and run for seven years.
The city also has a massive underground river project in the works.
The project, called the San Marcos River Walk project, will be complete by 2025.
Miller said that the company has completed more than 80,000 hours of testing.
“The biggest challenge of the project was how to make it work as efficiently as possible and the technology we used, in terms of fiberglass and steel, was very high-end,” he said.
“There’s a lot of other things that we did that were really innovative.”
The company also has plans for a new high-capacity river crossing at the corner of Interstate 10 and the 101 freeway, which it is calling the Northern River Crossing.
“When we first started working on this project, we knew that there was going to be a lot more work,” Miller said.
He added that the city plans to use the $6 billion bridge that will connect San Diego to downtown San Marcos, but that the river crossing will remain underground until completion.
The Northern River Crossings will be built on the north bank of the San Luis River, which runs between San Diego and Imperial Beach, about 20 miles south of downtown.
It will connect the San Juan Islands and San Diego Harbor, which is a major point of interest along the Pacific Coast.
It’s expected to open in 2021.
Miller and his team are also developing the first large underground river crossing in the U.S. “For us to be able to go out and make this work, we’ve got to build a tunnel underneath the bridge, but it has to be completely sealed,” he added.
The crossing will be about 3.5 miles long and the first of its kind in the United States.
The new crossing will bring in a significant amount of traffic, Miller said, which he expects to be more than 50 percent during peak times, including when the city is in the midst of construction.
“In our view, this is a significant achievement,” he noted.
“Our biggest challenge was to create a very high capacity and a tunnel system that can handle the high-density traffic that we are expecting from the river and also a bridge that can withstand the kind of storm surges that are expected in the future.”
The Northern Crossings is expected to cost between $3.5 million and $6.5 billion.
Miller expects that it will open to the public in 2021, but the city will need to raise a $3 billion private investment before it can complete the project.