Good News, Bad News for Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Travelers: New Funding
Speeds Repairs, but Lane Closures to Continue
Crews are in the process of completely replacing the concrete
trestle at the Marin County side of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
(Photo: John Huseby, Caltrans)
Crews have been laboring day and night to retrofit
the 48-year-old Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, although
much of the work is taking place underneath the deck
and out of motorists’ sight. Construction is
expanding to include deck joint rehabilitation throughout
the elevated steel portion of the structure, all
while the bridge remains open to the traveling public.
MTC, in its role as the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), agreed in July to advance $49
million to Caltrans to accelerate the repair/ replacement of the deck joints. The infusion
of funds means the repairs may be finished two years early.
Caltrans’ seismic retrofit of the bridge — funded by a $1 seismic surcharge on
bridge tolls — began in 2001 and involves construction along the entire length of the
5.5-mile span. The project includes extensive underwater work to strengthen foundations;
encasing support columns with concrete jackets; and installing new hardware such as
isolation bearings and dampers to improve the superstructure’s strength and
flexibility. In addition, Caltrans is completely replacing the concrete trestle section at
the western edge of the span. The work has necessitated slower speeds on the bridge and
regular lane closures, albeit at night and on weekends to minimize the impact on the
roughly 70,000 cars that cross the bridge daily (in both directions).
Caltrans estimates that the retrofit project is now 85 percent done. The original timeline
predicted completion of the seismic strengthening by mid-2005 and called for further joint
and deck rehabilitation work — funded by the BATA Toll Bridge Rehabilitation Program
and the Regional Measure 1 toll hike that voters approved in 1988 — to begin once the
seismic retrofit was complete. But daily inspections during the retrofit work revealed
potholes and cracks at the deck joints along the elevated portion of the bridge that
required urgent repairs. Due to this deterioration, Caltrans and BATA decided to
incorporate the deck joint work into the retrofit so that both can be completed by
Following completion of the retrofit and deck joint rehabilitation, Caltrans will advertise
a separate contract to place a polyester-concrete overlay, which will provide a smooth,
long-lasting riding surface on the bridge.
Night and weekend lane and deck closures are intensifying as the work gains momentum. When
one deck is closed, two-way traffic will be diverted to the open deck, eliminating the need
to shut down eastbound or westbound traffic.
— Karin Betts
Updated lane closure information can be found by calling the toll-free Bridge Hotline at
866.300.3530 or online at www.richmondsanrafaelbridge.com
- Bay Bridge East Span
- In Brief