Monterey St Bridge demolition set to begin

FRESNO, Calif.

City leaders say the Monterey Street Bridge is unsafe but one group of people call the area home.

The crumbling bridge once connected Golden State Boulevard and Broadway. Built in 1948, it has been closed for years because it's deteriorating.

The strip underneath the busy 41 overpass in Downtown Fresno is the place Pastor Ray Polk has called home for half a decade.

"It makes me sad that something positive can be taken away," Polk said.

Polk is homeless but he says that's a choice he makes to lead a Christian ministry from an outdoor pulpit.

"In order to reach the homeless community and to stay in tune with them you have to stay at their level. If I had on suits and ties and fancy pants and shiny shoes I wouldn't be able to reach them," Polk said.

On Mondays and Saturdays he also reaches the community by donating food. But starting Monday, that will change.

City workers are now clearing out those who live near the Monterey Street Bridge.

"The Monterey Street Bridge is in such a state of deterioration that for public safety we have to bring it down there is literally concrete falling off," Patrick Wiemiller, Fresno Public Works Director, said.

Wiemiller with the City of Fresno says the bridge has been closed to traffic since 2004.

"The demolition project is right about a million dollars to demolish the bridge and bring it down, and the money is coming from Measure C which is specialty fund money we have from road improvements," Wiemiller said.

But people who live near the bridge say the city is destroying their homes.

"I'm not under the bridge that's coming down. That's the Monterey Bridge that's coming down, this is the 41 bridge that stays, I'm 200 feet away from the bridge that's coming down," Polk said.

Polk says he plans to take a two week vacation at a motel, but he'll continue his ministry at a church when he returns.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.