Bay Area Small Bridges At Risk Of Collapse

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Transportation advocates have issued an urgent call for federal funding to shore up what they describe as crumbling infrastructure in the Bay Area – specifically, the hundreds of small bridges that span creeks, sloughs and highways all over the region.

Transportation for America, a national coalition, analyzed data from a Federal Highway Administration study of the Bay Area’s 3,500 bridges, determining that, overall, 20% of them are structurally deficient, with some even at risk of collapse. That figure jumped to nearly 35% when the analysis was limited to San Francisco’s bridges.

By comparison, nationally, roughly 11% of America’s bridges were deemed structurally deficient, based on Federal Highway Administration research.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

“This is a bit of a wake-up call,” declared Stuart Cohen, executive director of Transform, a Bay Area transit advocacy group that works in conjunction with Transportation for America. “If we’re all going to be safe we need to put more money into maintaining what we have and less money expanding.”

Understandably, many Bay Area motorists and pedestrians think about the more high-profile and iconic spans – like the Golden Gate and Bay bridges – when the topic of structural safety comes up. But, Cohen stressed that the region is actually saturated with a network of smaller spans – certainly not legendary landmarks, but responsible for bearing the weight of precious cargo over highways and waterways nonetheless.

“Most of these bridges are designed to last about 50 years and the average age of California’s bridges is now 44 years,” Cohen said of these smaller bridges. “So, a lot like our bodies as we grow older, if we don’t do significant maintenance now the costs and the dangers that we’re facing are going to really grow.”

It’s no secret that the coffers of cash-strapped communities and the State of California are running low – if not totally empty – prompting Cohen to call on the federal government to step in and open its wallet.

“The truth is that our local governments and our state government do not have enough money to maintain all of this,” he summed up the financially bleak picture. “We believe that there should be a strong federal role in making sure that we are safe.”

Transform planned to release its report, “The Fix We’re In For: The State Of California Bridges” at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday. The report was expected to include more detailed information, including the names and locations, of the Bay Area’s structurally deficient bridges and spans.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • mechanic

    Here we go again! THE SKY IS FALLING, THE SKY IS FALLING.I’m going to start referring to these jokers and the “lame stream” press people who print this type of story as “Henny Pennys”. For all you “young sprouts” that don’t know who that is; ask your mommy or whoever read to you way back when.

    • Og

      mechanic – no “Henny Penny’s” just reality.

  • citybuilder

    Every generation makes meaningful investments in regional infrastructure to support a healthy society with a future. Our parents gave us the California Water Project, BART, The California University System, and our Freeways. Time has passed and it’s our turn. We need to repair and seismically upgrade aged infrastructure, implement smart roads, build high speed rail, and update our water infrastructure (including making the delta levies and water conveyance system more robust) in addition to preparing for sea level rise. We can only count on ourselves to pay for most of this. The feds will have other obligations. We need to set aside our limited self interests and work together. At the end of the day we must do these things for ourselves and our children.

  • Tours Martel

    So sorry, folks, but we invested in fat pensions for state workers, police, and firemen, as well as welfare for illegals. There is no money left for the important stuff.
    Our bad!

  • mechanic

    In stead of THE SKY IS FALLING; I guess the new “fairy tale” montra is “THE SEA IS RISING, THE SEA IS RISING, for pete sake. High-Speed Rail, and “Smart” Roads are not needed to keep a society functioning. Not yet, anyway. As Tours Martel said; We’ve already blown our money on other “not-so-important” stuff. Let’s take care of what we already have before letting the SEA IS RISING nuts spend any of the little money we have left. Just one man’s opinion (??)

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