Repairs on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge will take longer than expected

Repairs on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge will take much longer than expected because Caltrans decided to expand the project from replacing one expansion joint to replacing 63.

Nearly 800 expansion joints were replaced in the early 2000s but there are some original ones left from the 1950s when the bridge was built. Those original joints will now be replaced including 33 on the upper deck and 30 on the lower deck, Caltrans said. 
The steel joints are like hinges that let the bridge shift and vibrate.

The first phase will immediately replace the upper deck joints and Caltrans estimates it will take up to take up to three months.

The second phase to replace the lower deck joints will start at the end of the year and includes other improvements so it’ll take longer to finish. 

 “Out of caution, the bridge is safe to traffic,” said Tony Tavares, Caltrans District 4 director. “Obviously, we had issues with the first joint and we want to replace other joints.” 

The project first began after Feb. 7, when an expansion joint failed, sending a piece of concrete onto a car on the lower deck of the bridge. Caltrans now says the failure was likely caused by an extremely heavy truck carrying a load too heavy for the bridge.

There are cameras all over the bridge so Caltrans is working with the CHP to find who’s responsible. Caltrans says if the heavy load affected one joint, it could compromise more.

Work on the bridge will shut down one lane in each direction on the upper deck from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. for several months.