In 2019, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife provided full funding for the Santa Ana Boulevard Bridge Replacement Project, the first major implementation component of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project. The design of the current bridge creates a bottleneck in the Ventura River floodplain by narrowing the river channel.  The current bridge constricts the floodplain and causes sand and gravel to accumulate immediately upstream. As a result, the site requires frequent mechanical sediment removal, which causes environmental impacts and results in high maintenance costs.

The new replacement bridge will be 50 percent longer than the current bridge, which will partially restore the Ventura River’s natural channel capacity.  Widening the river channel at this location will also improve sediment transport and increase flood capacity, boosting migration and improving habitat for the federally-endangered southern California steelhead and other species. Increased capacity will also allow sand and gravel to move into the lower Ventura River watershed to help sustain wetland, estuarine and near-shore habitats.