Bridge

The site of a new bridge that will span Maple Avenue at Brand Boulevard to connect the existing Mercedes Benz service center with a parking structure that is currently under construction. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / August 2, 2012)

As part of its expansion plans, the hulking Mercedes-Benz dealership on South Brand Boulevard will soon start building a bridge over East Maple Street to connect its new service center to a four-story parking garage currently under construction.

The bridge was approved by City Council members in late 2008 as part of larger expansion plans, but they gave the final OK on Tuesday, including granting permission to build in the space over the street.

The bridge is designed to let dealership employees move customer and service vehicles between the two buildings at the third-story level “without disrupting normal vehicle and neighborhood activity on East Maple Street,” according to a city report.

In the past, residents living near the many auto dealerships that line Brand Boulevard have complained that dealership workers park in the neighborhood, leading to a shortage of on-street parking.

Annette Vartanian, economic development analyst for the city, said the new parking structure will have designated areas for employees as well as parking for customers and the dealership's vehicle inventory.

But Sylvia Moreno, who lives a few houses from the dealership on Maple, said she's not pleased with the expansion.

“You can't see the view anymore,” she said of the parking structure under construction. “If they [build] the bridge, it's going to make it even worse.”

The Mercedes-Benz bridge will be much smaller than the crossover structure built by nearby Pacific BMW over East Windsor Road, said Vartanian, who described the new bridge as “petite” and about the width of a driveway.

The bridge, which is slated to be completed in mid-2013, is the final part of Mercedes-Benz's expansion project, which will grow the dealership to about 100,000 square feet, according to Vartanian.

In 2008, two community meetings were held before the expansion plans, including the bridge, were approved, Vartanian said.

“So the community is well aware of the automobile bridge,” she added.

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