SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – The bridge that collapsed Thursday in Washington State was considered functionally obsolete by the federal government, a designation also carried by several Bay Area spans.
Among the functionally obsolete spans is the Western Span of the Bay Bridge, which has earned the label due to its outdated design – which does not include shoulders for emergency parking. It does not necessarily mean the bridge is a danger to collapse.
“When you say functionally obsolete…it has nothing to do with the structural integrity of the bridge,” said Bob Haus of Caltrans.
The American Society of Engineers says that 17 percent of California’s 25,000 highway and toll bridges are outdated. Caltrans told KPIX 5 that they are monitoring those spans.
“We’re always updating our standards…bringing in the latest we know about bridge design,” said Haus.
There is more concern for bridges that are considered structurally deficient. 12 percent of the bridges on state highways carry that label. The old Doyle Drive approach to the Golden Gate Bridge was one of the worst structurally deficient bridges in the state. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration gave it a 2 out of a possible 100. The bridge that collapsed in Washington had been rated at a 50.
Caltrans follows certain criteria to decide which are torn down or retrofitted.
“All sorts of things go into that rating… I doesn’t mean it’s in any imminent danger,” said Haus.
Major work on all the Bay Area toll bridges are ongoing. The Dumbarton has been replaced, as has the Carquinez Bridge, and the new Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge is nearing completion.
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