OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that almost 59,000 U.S. bridges are structurally deficient; in need of significant maintenance, repair or replacement. Any structure that passes over something, such as an overpass, is also deemed to be a bridge.
Caltrans has responsibility for some 26,000 California bridges, about 2,000 of which have been deemed structurally deficient. That's nine percent of Caltrans' inventory.
Of the top 25 deficient, three are in the Bay Area, but, Caltrans spokeswoman RocQuel Johnson says that they are, "Structurally safe and we would never allow them to be not so."
A small Interstate 880 bridge overpassing San Leandro Creek, in the shadow of the Oakland Coliseum is one of them. Also on Interstate 880, a bridge overpassing Whipple Road in Union City is another. On Interstate 680, a bridge overpassing Monument Boulevard in Pleasant Hill is the third.
Of the top 50 most structurally deficient California bridges, seven are in the nine-county Bay Area, but none are considered to be an imminent hazard.
"Structurally deficient just simply allows us to have access to federal funds," says Johnson.
The good news is that Caltrans says it's on it. "Four out of those have actually been taken care of. We've actually gone in to do the repairs and so three of those are in the process now of being allocated funds for," says Johnson.
Beyond the bridges and overpasses Caltrans maintains, counties and cities also have bridges they maintain. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, 15 percent have structural deficiencies as well.
It would take many billions of tax dollars to bring all of the bridges within the state's borders up to structural sufficiency. "All bridges within California that are open for the public are safe," advised Johnson.
However, many became structurally deficient because gas taxes have not kept up with wear and tear.
The list of California's "structurally deficient" bridges can be seen here.