MARIN COUNTY (KRON) — Drivers on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge might be noticing a smoother ride this week.
Caltrans crews are now wrapping up the months long emergency repairs to replace falling concrete from the bridge’s upper deck.
Regardless, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“We’re trying to get as much life out of the bridge as we can. There’s still many years left on it,” said Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney.
Ney says after months of working to replace 31 expansion joints on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge’s upper deck, motorists can relax.
“There are no more steel plates on the upper deck,” he said. “They won’t feel any bumps when they’re going over the top of it.”
Between February and April of this year, a failed joint was blamed for causing several pieces of concrete to fall, in some cases on top of cars.
Ney says now that all the upper deck joints have been replaced, they’ll start looking at the joints on the bottom deck.
“At the end of the year we’ll put out another contract for the bridge where we’ll replace the bottom 30 joints as well as a couple other maintenance things,” Ney said. “It’s an extremely old bridge and Caltrans is doing a head to toe check up on the bridge to make sure it has the integrity it needs to carry cars across the bridge.”
Even with the recent replacements, State Assemblyman Marc Levine says he knows it isn’t the strongest bridge in the bay.
“We need to check it out to make sure its safe and make sure it will maintain its structural integrity so we can keep going across it,” Levine said.
At Levine’s request, Caltrans and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission have designated billions of dollars in studying the bay’s bridges, and he says the 65-year-old Richmond-San Rafael Bridge is top priority.
“From an engineering standpoint you can keep maintaining a bridge like that for a really long time. Right now what we’re doing is evaluating what type of maintenance we need to do,” Levine said. “We can’t go on without knowing how to make sure that connection between North Bay and East Bay can be sustained.
Levine is hoping to have the reports from the MTC and Caltrans by the end of the year or early next year.
As for the joint repairs, though they’ve been replaced on the upper deck, crews still need to put the seals to the joints in, which will require some night time lane closures, but is expected to be fully wrapped up in the next two weeks.