Caltrans and the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) today announced that contractors already working on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to replace the upper-deck joint that failed Feb. 7 will remain on site for the next several months to replace 31 more joints on the upper deck of the 63-year-old span. Due to the replacement of these steel-and-concrete joints, the targeted opening date for a bicycle/pedestrian path on the bridge’s upper deck has been pushed back from this spring to this summer.
Installation of the four-mile-long moveable barrier system that will separate bicyclists and pedestrians from westbound auto traffic on the bridge’s upper deck originally had been scheduled for April 2019. This work is now slated for June of this year to allow crews unfettered access to each of the additional joint-repair locations over the next three months. Inclement weather could extend this schedule. Opening of the bicycle/pedestrian path likely will follow installation of the moveable barrier system by three to four weeks.
The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge includes a total of 856 deck joints, of which 795 were rebuilt in the early 2000s either as part of the seismic retrofit of the bridge or through other rehabilitation projects. The remaining 61 joints (including the 31 on the upper deck to be replaced in the coming weeks as well as 30 on the lower deck that will be replaced through a Caltrans contract later in 2019) are located in the bridge’s 289-foot truss sections and date to the span’s original construction in the 1950s. The most recent inspections of the undersides of these joints, including the joint at bridge Pier 59 that failed earlier this month and prompted hours-long closures of the bridge to traffic in both directions, were conducted in August 2018. Deck-level inspection of the joints most recently were performed in July 2017.
Replacement of the failed joint at Pier 59 is expected to be complete by Saturday, March 2, with nearly identical work on the 31 additional upper-deck joints scheduled to begin March 4. Crews will begin installing temporary steel plates on the upper deck roadway at these locations on the night of Monday, Feb. 25. Motorists crossing the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge can expect traffic lane closures in each direction from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. to accommodate the joint replacement project. At least one lane of traffic in each direction will remain open each night while work is completed. Costs for replacement of the Pier 59 joint are expected to total about $300,000. BATA projects a roughly $8 million cost to replace the 31 additional joints on the upper deck of the bridge.
The 5.5-mile bicycle/pedestrian path that will establish the first Bay Trail connection between Contra Costa and Marin counties — and the third lane that opened on the lower deck of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in April 2018 to carry peak-period eastbound traffic — were developed through a partnership between BATA, Caltrans, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Transportation Authority of Marin.
BATA administers all toll revenues from the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges. Caltrans owns and operates the state highway system, including the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.