Bridge collapse sparks attention on infrastructure

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wa bridge copyA bridge collapse in Washington State that sent cars and drivers tumbling into the water below was caused when a semi-trailer truck carrying an oversize load struck a support beam.

While no one was killed, the collapse of the bridge built in 1955, puts a spotlight on the dangers posed by aging infrastructure across the country and here in San Diego.

“We’re in the process of inspecting the under water aspects of the bridge right now,” said Caltrans Public Information officer, Steve Saville.

Here in San Diego County we have hundreds of bridges and roadway over passes, but none like the one that collapsed in Washington.   That style of bridge is older and can mostly be seen in Northern California.

“We’ve had our overpasses hit here in San Diego.”

The last time it happened was at the Carroll Canyon overpass off Interstate 15.

The overpass was shut down for two days during repairs.

“Normally it results from an oversized vehicle that either has a permit and is not adhering to it or doesn’t have permit at all.”

That’s why Caltrans is so meticulous about proper permitting. It’s unclear if in the Washington case, the truck driver had a permit, but says Caltrans, if he had, he certainly would have would have known his load was too high, “We help them avoid any bridges that might be too low, any bridges that they may cross that they’re too heavy for so,” said Saville, explaining there are many things they take into consideration to make sure drivers are safe.

San Diego is home to many bridges, but none as iconic as the San Diego Coronado Bridge which was given a structurally sub par rating a couple years ago due to cracked concrete, but has since been repaired.

California has about 20 bridges like the one in Washington that collapsed mostly north of San Francisco. Caltrans already has plans for re-inspection.

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