Local Bridge Safety Questioned in New Report

If you drove over more than five bridges on your way to work today, at least one of them was likely structurally deficient.

By Lori Preuitt
|  Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011  |  Updated 12:37 PM PDT
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In Pictures: Bay Bridge Cable Collapse

North County Times/Hayne Palmour IV

Caltrans employee Gilbert Garcia prepares the embankment next to the Interstate 5 bridge over Oceanside Boulevard for new plants in Oceanside on Tuesday. The overpass has dropped chunks of concrete onto Oceanside Boulevard at least twice in the past few months.

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A report just released by the transportation advocacy group Transportation For America gave some scary statistics on the state of California bridges.

The new study found one in five Bay Area bridges is structurally deficient.  They qualify "structurally deficient" as a span identified by the federal government as high priority for monitoring and repair due to what they classify as significant wear to at least one part of the bridge.  A bridge in the study is defined as a structure that can accommodate automobile traffic and is at least 20-feet-long, so it covers many more structures than the ones where we pay tolls.

Stuart Cohen, TransForm’s executive director, said that our transportation infrastructure is in crisis.

“The era of building new highways is over," he said.  "Federal transportation funding needs to focus on fixing what we already have and then expanding only in ways that reduce our dependence on oil, like better public transportation, biking, and walking options."

The group said it looked at the situation from a federal level adding that the recommendations would not have an impact from a state budget perspective. The report says the deterioration far exceeds available state funds and says it is up to Congress reassess its policy that weighs heavily on building new roads rather than fixing existing ones. This group claims fixing the roads we are currently driving on should be the higher priority and they say it makes fiscal sense to fix roads rather than build new roads.

Read report for yourself here.

County
Number of bridges
Number of structurally deficient bridges
Percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient
Average annual daily traffic on structurally deficient bridges
San Francisco
116
40
34.5%
2,569,899
601
130
21.6%
5,608,117
344
74
21.5%
3,064,075
601
121
20.1%
737,485
939
182
19.4%
5,804,761
560
105
18.8%
3,241,193
Marin
199
31
15.6%
1,117,587
Napa
150
23
15.3%
80,153

 The national average for deficient bridges is 11.5 percent, while the Bay Area’s average is 20 percent.

 

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