Investigative Unit

More Than 60 Joints Will Be Replaced Following Chunks of Concrete Falling From Richmond-San Rafael Bridge

NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit has learned that more than 60 joints like the one that failed earlier this month on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge will soon have to be replaced at a cost of more than $10 million.

The bridge was shut down for nine hours on Feb. 7 when the joint started to fail, sending chunks of concrete onto the lower deck.

The $300,000 repair work on that failed joint has already been completed, officials say. Now, the plan is to replace the 30 remaining joints on the upper deck, followed by the 31 on the lower deck.

The joint replacement work is being done as part of a $20 million fund that had been aside for targeted maintenance on the aging span, now more than six decades old.

The bulk of 800 joints on the 5.5 mile bridge have already been retrofitted under work that was performed back in 2005. At that time, the bridge’s steel-to-steel joints were not considered at risk.

Then in August, Caltrans maintenance crews were dispatched to look at the underside of the upper deck after reports of loud banging and clanging noises at the spot where the joint ultimately failed.

Caltrans officials say that those inspections were routine and found no “signs of deficiency.”

The type of joint is known as a steel to steel connection because it relies on two overlapping steel plates embedded into the end of concrete road deck sections with steel studs.

The joints are designed to handle heat expansion and contraction between deck sections but apparently became undermined under the pounding inflicted by heavy trucks.

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