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Not Safe Enough: Bay Area Bridges Still Need More Retrofitting

By Janette Williams
|  Thursday, Oct 15, 2009  |  Updated 12:53 PM PDT
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Bay Bridge Seismic Safety Features

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Bay Bridge Seismic Safety Features

Twenty years after an earthquake brought down part of the Bay Bridge, transit planners have designed a replacement to withstand shaking.
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This Saturday marks 20 years since the Loma Prieta earthquake. The magnitude 6.9 quake rocked the state from Monterey all the way to San Francisco. It brought not only the World Series, but the whole area to a standstill. It was the biggest reminder we've had since the 1906 quake that it's just a matter of time until the next one hits.

In the two decades that have passed, people in the Bay Area are still driving on structures that may not stand the test in the next earthquake.

63 people were killed during the 1989 earthquake. Of that group, 42 died when the Cypress Freeway collapsed. A section of the Bay Bridge also snapped.  Those structural failures made it clear California's transportation system was in desperate need of seismic retrofitting. That's when crews jumped into action. 2,500 projects have been completed since then, according to Caltrans.

Projects that aren't complete

  • The East Span of the Bay Bridge
  • San Francisco's Doyle Drive
  • Interstate 880's High Street Bridge & 5th Avenue overpass

Last year Caltrans decided two more Bay Area bridges needed seismic safety work, the Antioch Bridge and the Dumbarton Bridge.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission says making the two key commuter routes safe won't be cheap and will mean another toll increase is in the near future.

Most of the bridge projects are set to be complete in 2013. Caltrans says that if the next big earthquake hits after work is finished, damage to Bay Area transportation routes is expected to be minimal.
 

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