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Falling Concrete Temporarily Closes CA Bridge

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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Chunks of concrete—some as large as a football—fell from the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, located in California, late last week, causing a several-hour closure and emergency repairs put in place until a more permanent fix can be implemented.

According to CBS San Francisco, the falling concrete damaged a vehicle. No injuries were reported, though there was significant traffic congestion for the Bay Area.

Falling Concrete

The falling concrete was the latest issue for the 5.5-mile cantilever span, which originally opened in 1956. The bridge has a history of suffering gashes and potholes. A deck rehabilitation project was completed in 2006, but holes continued to open.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, on Thursday (Feb. 7) morning, a layer of concrete that covers the steel of the bridge’s upper deck broke, falling to the lower deck and damaging a vehicle. California Highway Patrol officers receive reports of chunks of falling debris around 10:30 that morning. The CHP and Caltrans opted to shut down the bridge around 4 p.m. that day, after additional concrete near the problem area also loosened and fell.

“These issues have been around on this bridge for a long time,” said Randy Rentschler, legislative director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. He added that deteriorating material is part of the span.

“If a vehicle hits the side of the bridge—even a glancing blow—that will loosen it up,” Rentschler said. “Rattling trucks can loosen it up, too.”

Temporary Fix

Caltrans installed a 6-foot metal plate on Feb. 8 as a temporary fix. Vince Jacala, a Caltrans spokesperson, noted that the plates were a short-term repair so that it could be made ready for the morning commute, and further assessments could be completed.

Though Caltrans does not know what caused the concrete to become loose, the agency did note that contractors had been working on the upper deck to construct a pedestrian-and-bike lane.

Work on a permanent repair has been delayed by a week due to anticipated bad weather in the area—work will now begin Feb. 18, and is anticipated to be completed in 10 overnight shifts, and will be focused on fixing an expansion joint on the bridge.

“The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge remains safe and open to the public,” Caltrans District 4 Director Tony Tavares said. “Out of an abundance of caution, Caltrans engineers will continue to regularly monitor the bridge until the permanent repair is made.”

Editor's Note: Removed incorrect punctuation from headline, on Feb. 12, 2019, at 12:50 p.m.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; concrete; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair

Comment from Mario Colica, (2/12/2019, 12:16 PM)

It would be interesting to know which system they've adopted to repair the concrete because it's evident from the picture that the reinfocemet was corroded by rust


Comment from peter gibson, (2/16/2019, 12:01 PM)

That whole bridge is falling apart; after spending millions on upgrades. So much for infrastructure repairs in general. Problem is you can never catch all the problem areas on old structures.


Comment from John Fauth, (2/20/2019, 11:05 AM)

The first rule of holes...stop digging. We can't afford to maintain current infrastructure, so short of replacing/upgrading existing infrastructure, perhaps we should think twice about new projects that often serve to pick winners and losers amongst suburbs (and create a host of other problems) and give politicians an opportunity to hang their name on a new bridge.


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