After several months this winter and spring in which chunks of concrete were regularly falling onto cars and the lower-deck roadway of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Caltrans has announced that its fixes to the troubled concrete joints on the bridge's upper deck are just about complete.
In total, Caltrans replaced 31 of these joints, which mostly dated back to the original construction of the bridge in 1956, and which were showing clear signs of wear and tear. As NBC Bay Area reports, the 30 joints below the lower deck will get replaced next year as part of a bridge painting contract — but those concrete pieces aren't falling onto passing motorists.
Each of the 31 original joints... has been replaced by a new concrete joint with a rubberized seal designed to shrink and expand with changing temperatures, Caltrans officials said. The sealant will prevent cracking of the surrounding concrete road deck.
Patching, sealing, and "form removal" will be ongoing through July, but the last of the concrete was poured as of Tuesday.
This was an $8 million repair project, and all along, Caltrans has said that the bridge remained structurally sound.
Caltrans, by the way, thanks everyone for their patience.
See our weekly update for week of July 16-22 on the I-580 Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. For traffic 24/7: check @511SFBay or Caltrans #QuickMap for real-time conditions. @CaltransHQ @MTCBATA @CA_Trans_Agency @CHP_GoldenGate pic.twitter.com/NZKxaBynSR— Caltrans District 4 (@CaltransD4) July 18, 2019
As discussed here in April, the source of the problem was possibly some other repair work that had been going on on the upper deck of the bridge in March. Because concrete is known to expand and contract in different temperatures, pieces had cracked and loosened over time, and these pieces were likely shaken loose by jackhammering on the upper deck.
So, the 63-year-old bridge isn't collapsing anytime soon, or so the experts say.
But politicians like State Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) are likely to keep pushing for a replacement bridge to be built in the coming years, at an estimated cost of $3 billion. Levine argued in April that such a project made sense given that the existing bridge likely only has 20 more viable years left, and it will cost $900 million to maintain it over the next 10.