La Jolla News Nuggets: UCSD opens Gilman Bridge over I-5; Sea lions tangle with death; It’s tax (award) season; 4,000 heart-lung surgeries performed at UCSD and more local news

At last! UC Span Diego

The Gilman Bridge, which joins UC San Diego’s main campus with Medical Center Drive to the east, opened across Interstate 5 on Friday, Feb. 8. The day before, UCSD held a ribbon-cutting and community celebration for 500 attendees gathered on the bridge.

“The Gilman Bridge has been one of the highlights of my career, and I’m proud to have led this project from concept to completion,” said Tony Sanchez of Moffatt & Nickel, who began thinking about the 406-foot-long bridge 18 years before he landed the contract — while getting his doctoral degree in the UCSD structural engineering department.

UCSD chancellor Pradeep Khosla called the bridge “a stunning architectural structure that will help us meet our goal of creating a more interconnected campus — both literally and figuratively.”

To facilitate smooth traffic flow, the bridge and intersections on both sides have a three-lane configuration: one lane of traffic each way with a protected left-hand turn lane. Sidewalks and bicycle lanes are included. In addition, a new pedestrian bridge connects graduate housing in the Mesa Neighborhood to Gilman Bridge at Medical Center Drive.

Sea lions tangle with death

SeaWorld reports that about five sea lions off La Jolla Cove tangled in plastic — including fishing lines, nets and garbage — could die of their predicaments.

Staff members are tracking the animals, but rescue efforts have been hampered by rough seas and the recent rains, which made cliffs more slippery than usual. These efforts do not include luring the animals into shore with food, since teaching them to associate humans with food will only worsen troubles for La Jolla’s sea-lion colonies.

It’s tax (award) season

Nominations are sought by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association for its 24th annual Golden Awards, which recognize the best and worst of local government efficiency, spending and decision-making over the past year.

Categories include Golden Watchdog (good government practices and efficient use of public money), Golden Fleece (calling out wasteful inefficiency), Media Watchdog (print and broadcast) and the Public-Private Partnership Award (for stretching taxpayer dollars through public and private cooperation).

Self-nominations in all categories are “highly encouraged,” according to the association. The deadline is Feb. 20. Submit via bit.ly/2GlVcCI

Kids illustrator visits Children’s School

On Feb. 5, bestselling children’s-book illustrator Christian Robinson appeared at The Children’s School to read some of the books he illustrated and answer questions posed by students.

For the pre-K through second-grade, Robinson read Kelly DiPucchio’s “Gaston” (2014). For fourth- and fifth-graders, he chose “Leo: A Ghost Story.” Robinson also drew animals for the students upon request and signed copies of the books.

The students had been preparing for Robinson’s visit for several weeks by reading the books and discussing common themes in the illustrations.

“They were very excited to finally meet Christian, and to ask the many questions that have arisen as they have read his books and studied his work,” said Emily Williamson, communications director for the school at 2225 Torrey Pines Lane.

Heart-lung surgery No. 4K at UCSD

UC San Diego Health has performed its 4,000th pulmonary thromboendarterectomy (PTE) — more than any other institution in the world, according to directors. This life-saving surgery clears the lungs’ arteries of scar-like tissue resulting from the blood clots that define chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH) and rob sufferers of their ability to breathe.

In order to remove the clots, the surgeon must be able to see clearly into the lungs’ tiny arteries. This requires operating without any blood present. To achieve this environment, the patient’s body is cooled and the blood almost completely drained while the patient is on a heart-lung machine and the surgeon races against the clock to remove the blockages.

During the 8- to 10-hour procedure, the patient is put into a kind of suspended animation in which heart function and blood circulation are stopped and the brain ceases activity while surgeons clear the pulmonary arteries of disease.

“To do 4,000 of these surgeries, the most in the world with the best outcomes, requires a true team effort,” said Michael Madani, chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery and executive director of the Cardiovascular Institute — Surgery at UC San Diego Health. “I just could not be prouder of the multi-disciplinary team I work with.”

UCSD may get a mini-Target

Lease negotiations are underway to replace the UC San Diego bookstore in the student center with a miniature-sized Target drugstore. The university is currently in confidential talks with multiple restaurant and retail operators, as it endeavors to implement plans to double its current resident-student population.

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