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CA Officials Call for New Bridge after Mishaps

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

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A call for funding has been made by California assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael to replace the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, where a second concrete incident has taken place.

In the span of two months, the bridge has closed for repair twice after pieces of concrete fell from the upper to lower span, according to California Highway Patrol.

“Enough with the Band-Aids — let’s have a bridge that will last for generations,” said Levine.

About the Bridge

The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was constructed in 1956, led by contractor Judson Pacific Murphy-Kiewit and engineer Norman C. Raab. The structure embodies a metal cantilever rivet-connected warren through truss.

Basil D Soufi, CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A call for funding has been made by California assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael to replace the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, where a second concrete incident has taken place.

The length of the structure measures just over 21,000 feet while the main span encompasses 1,087 feet. As a whole, the bridge includes six main spans and 137 approach spans.

In 2014, it was reported that the California Department of Transportation awarded Certified Coatings Co. (Fairfield, California) for various cleaning and coating rehabilitations to the bridge.

The Incidents

The first incident, which occurred on the morning Feb. 7, caused the closing of all but one lane of traffic for emergency repairs after a chunk of concrete fell onto a vehicle. No injuries were reported from the incident, but the result of the fallen concrete left a 6-foot cavity beneath the roadway.

Just before 8 p.m. that same evening, Caltrans announced the lanes were reopened and that blame could be pointed to the “wear and tear” from the bridge’s frequent “heavy use."

The second incident was reported last Friday (April 5), and resulted in the closure of two eastbound lanes after, again, pieces of concrete fell from the upper to lower deck of the bridge, located just west of the mid-span. But according to Caltrans, the reason for the second incident was not the same as the first.

Inspectors determined that while conducting maintenance work—which involved swapping out 61 aging steel joints—concrete apparently expanded and loosened from the demolition jostling, resulting in the falling pieces onto the barrier system below.

"The concrete part of it is the real problem. It's not necessarily the steel part, it's the concrete part. It apparently is basically reaching the end of its useful life,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.

What’s Happening Now

Already in progress, Caltrans began its $10 million repair efforts just last month. However, Levine has requested that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission develop concepts for a new span.

Adding that in this year alone, the state of California will pay $100 million in maintenance to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, not including the various economic costs of disruption, should more concrete fall, causing more closures.

In agreement with Levine, Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, whose district covers the west side of the bridge, views the opportunity to incorporate new pedestrian walkways, bike paths, bus lanes, car pools and possibly a rail onto what would be the new structure.

The ball began rolling for the idea at the beginning of April when Levine met with Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. A $10 million budget request was then submitted so that a planning phase can commence.

Caltrans already has the replacement of the deck slated to take place sometime in the next decade on its radar, which is predicted to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission John Goodwin concluded that building a new structure may not be “a ‘right now’ thing. But it is a ‘before too long’ thing. Like any 65-year-old, this bridge is getting creaky.”


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Caltrans; Concrete repair; Department of Transportation (DOT); Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Maintenance coating work; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair

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