More problems arise on aging Richmond-San Rafael Bridge

More troubles plague the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, a structure that experts say was built at a time when road builders were more concerned with maximizing the number of miles they constructed than the longevity of the bridge.

Just as repair crews began fixing the 61 oher expansion joints on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, Caltrans was called out to inspect a mean looking pothole. Caltrans closed one of the westbound lanes to do a temporary quick fix just after 9 a.m. Monday. It was completed before noon, but will be followed by a more permanent fix Monday night.

"Got an inspector out to take a look at it and what that revealed was that it was the failure of a concrete  patch and that had exposed some of the steel rebar in the deck," said the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's John Goodwin.

The 63-year-old bridge, with thinner, lighter decks than bridges farther south in the Bay is showing its age, and chronic problems.

We anticipate, over the course of the next 10 years, that's probably going to require about $80 million in maintenance," said Mr. Goodwin.

In the last five years, overall Richmond-San Rafael Bridge traffic is up 13%; far more than the increase on the Bay Bridge. During the morning rush, since 2010, traffic is up more than 30% with more expected. As we go into the 2020's, the question is: are we going to have to replace the entire deck of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge?  

"It is very much on our radar screen. That is a project that would certainly entail hundreds of millions of dollars in expense and there is not an  identified source of funds for that kind of a project yet," said Goodwin.

The most likely source of re-decking or replacement funds would come from higher tolls on all state owned bridges. Major re-decking or replacement of the 5.5 mile long Richmond San Rafael Bridge is at least a decade or more away with a cost estimate in the multi-billions.