Various bridges in VC considered structurally deficient but not a danger

January 24, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Peggy Kelly 

Santa Paula Times 

Being structurally deficient doesn’t mean you’re about to fall down the Ventura County Board of Supervisors will learn Tuesday when they hear a report on the state of county bridges.

Transportation Department Director David Fleisch will present the report to supervisors at their January 28 meeting.

Fleisch’s report notes that although various bridges in the county are considered structurally deficient - including South Mountain Road, Mupu Road, Koenigstein Road, Bridge Road and Wheeler Canyon Road - it does not mean dangerous crossings are ahead.

Although there have been reports throughout the nation about bridge failures and deteriorating bridges on major highways as well those scattered throughout towns and local roads, Ventura County’s 158 bridges are “in good condition,” with an average sufficiency rating of 75 out of 100. 

The county’s Public Works Agency Transportation Department (PWATD), through Caltrans or contractor support, routinely inspects its bridges and has a program to complete repairs on correctable deficiencies.

Last summer county supervisors received a biennial report centered on assessing local streets and roads which included summary information on bridge conditions and funding availability for California. 

There are a lot of bridges in the United States, 605,000 alone that are inspected under the National Bridge Inspection System (NBIS).

Fleisch’s report notes that 25,000 (4 percent) are located in

California.

Eleven percent of the bridges nationally, and 12 percent in California, are listed as structurally deficient. A bridge is considered structurally deficient if significant load-carrying elements of the bridge are found to be in poor condition. 

Poor condition may be due to deterioration or insufficient capacity of the waterway opening provided by the bridge.

The latest report by the American Society of Civil Engineers grades bridges in the United States as a “C+”.

County public works maintains a total of 158 bridges, 80 that are under the National Bridge Inspection System (NBIS) and 78 that are not due to their short span, a length of less than 20 feet.

The latest NBIS report from Caltrans lists 15 of the 80 bridges as structurally deficient. 

“However,” reports Fleisch, “a finding of structurally deficient does not indicate that a bridge is unsafe. Structural elements were found to be in poor condition at the 15 locations (Victoria Avenue, Harbor Boulevard, Torrey Road, Santa Ana Boulevard, Santa Ana Road,

South Mountain Road, Piru Canyon Road, Koenigstein Road, Hitch

Boulevard, Broadway Road, Mupu Road, Bridge Road, Wheeler Canyon Road, two bridges on Canada Larga Road), and in most cases, the deck was found to have surface cracking.”

Three of these 15 bridges - Bridge, Mupu and Wheeler Canyon - have federally funded projects that will improve their overall rating, all of which are below 50. 

Fleisch notes that the remaining bridges “will continue to be monitored and projects initiated for repair or improvements as needed.”

Bridges can also be classified as Functionally Obsolete, which means they do not meet current design standards regarding lane and shoulder widths, as well as vertical clearances.

Eight bridges in Ventura County that fall under this category, Camino Cielo, West Fifth Street, Grimes Canyon Road, Grand Avenue, Old Lewis Road, Casitas Vista Road, Ventura Avenue, and Carne Road.

The state uses an overall rating called the Sufficiency Rating - which combines several factors, including structurally deficient and functional obsolete parameters and route element/category to rate the bridge on a scale of 0 to 10 - to determine eligibility for federal funds for bridge repairs.

The overall average rating for NBIS bridges is currently 81, and the overall average rating is 70 for non-NBIS bridges.

For the county’s 15 bridges in the structurally deficient category the average is 78.

Caltrans’ bridge-inspection engineers inspect county-maintained bridges under the NBIS every four years, but Fleisch notes they can be inspected every two years when they are believed to have “key structural elements that require more frequent inspections.”

Inspection reports are reviewed and evaluated by county public works staff to determine if any repairs are required or monitoring of bridge-structure elements is needed.

Bridge reconstruction, widening of bridges, and bridge deck rehabilitation are such major repairs that they are planned and added to the county’s capital improvement lists.

There is no action expected on the part of the supervisors who are being asked to receive and file the report.





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