Report details condition of San Diego bridges

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SAN DIEGO — The condition of the more than 300 bridges in San Diego that span roads, canyons and waterways is generally adequate, with repairs underway on five that required some work, according to a report delivered Wednesday to the City Council’s Infrastructure Committee.

Cornado BridgeThe bridges are subject to a mix of responsibilities between the city and Caltrans over inspection, maintenance and repairs, depending on their type. Policies also vary between the jurisdictions on how often different types of spans are to be inspected.

Two vehicle bridges have poor sufficiency ratings — the Georgia Street Bridge over University Avenue and the Laurel Street Bridge over state Route 163 — with repairs underway on both, according to the report.

Work to repair or replace the El Camino Real Bridge over the San Dieguito River, the West Mission Bay Drive Bridge over the San Diego River and the Voltaire Street Bridge is also underway, the report says.

Another 37 spans require some patching up, but their basic structures were found to be satisfactory or good. An extra nine are functionally obsolete, meaning the structures are okay but deck geometry, clearance or roadway approaches no longer meet current standards.

Most of the pedestrian and bicycle bridges in the city are rated as being in good shape.

“The up note is that the city’s bridges — those that are Caltrans- responsible and the bridges for which (the city) is responsible, are in relatively good shape,” said James Nagelvoort, the city’s assistant director of Public Works. “We’re not in crisis mode today. The only word of caution I have is as these things get older, they are very expensive.”

The staff report said the average age of San Diego’s bridges is 41.

Nagelvoort said city staff is working to develop and find funding for a formal, regular inspection process.

The condition of bridges around the U.S. are often highlighted in national debates over infrastructure.

Last May, a bridge collapsed on Interstate 5 in Washington state after it was struck by an oversized truck. Three people were injured. More than six years ago, a span of Interstate 35W in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people.

The 2013 Report Card of America’s Infrastructure gave the overall condition of the nation’s bridges a C-plus, with one in nine being structurally deficient. The report is put out by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

In California, 12 percent of the nearly 25,000 bridges were considered structurally deficient, according to the ASCE study.

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