Building Bridges On City, County's New Year List
2010 is a good time to start building bridges and both Los Angeles County and the City of Santa Clarita are launching into several projects in earnest.
The city is ready to start work on five bridges within the city limits, making both structural and cosmetic changes to the bridges and surrounding areas to improve safety.
The county's project is a bit more large-scale, involving a historic bridge that has served the community and it's growing number of commuters for more than 80 years. That project is expected to start in 2014.
Work will begin in earnest next week, according to Monica Fernandez, consultant for the city's project. Planned improvements on the first of the five - the Bouquet Canyon bridge near Central Park - include replacing a section of decking and sealing the bridge with methacylate, a special emulsion that seals cracks on the driving surface.
Fernandez said that some work on the sidewalk and curbs near the bridge will also be done before the crews move on to the other four bridges, which include Lost Canyon Road over Sand Canyon Creek, Soledad Canyon Road over the Santa Clara River, Sand Canyon over Iron Canyon Creek and Whites Canyon over the Santa Clara River.
Construction on the city's overall bridge project is expected to last 55 working days and will be strategically scheduled to minimally impact traffic flow. Lane closures will be in effect during construction on the affected project bridges.
The city's bridge project is funded entirely through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The estimated $360,000 project will enhance the infrastructure and aesthetics of several local bridges.
Pat DeChellis, Deputy Director of Transportation and Roads for Los Angeles County, said that a large improvement project is planned to include the bridge on The Old Road between Magic Mountain Parkway and Rye Canyon Road, which was built in 1928 and was recently rated as one of the most dangerous bridges in the county. (See the original story here.)
The rating actually helped the county qualify for funding to make repairs and improvements. County officials are quick to point out that the bridge's rating is still fair and it is structurally capable of handling the traffic it currently carries.
"We actually have a project that improves The Old Road from just north of where the city of Santa Clarita finished improvements, all the way to beyond Rye Canyon Road about 1000 feet north. The road improvement project widens the road and replaces and widens this bridge and the bridge over the railroad just to the north.
DeChellis said that construction is expected to begin on that project in 2014, however, motorists should be aware that the county is closely monitoring the bridge's safety and stability. The bridge's age - 82 years - is directly responsible for its condition.
"In the last 82 years, a lot of design standards have changed," DeCellis explained. "The bridge itself is in fair condition, but the sufficiency rating is low because structures built 80-some years ago are nearing the end of their life expectancy."
The 2014 project is funded from federal sources obtained from Caltrans and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in its 2009 Call for Projects.
He also said that the results of the TRIP survey did not come as a surprise, since the county is intimately involved with the inspection process.
"The County of Los Angeles inspects all local bridges in the county except those in the city of LA , under contract to Caltrans," he said. "In the rest of the state, Caltrans does the inspections. We do all the inspections in the county every two years. We know the sufficiency rating on the bridge is low, that's directly related to its age."
"Because the bridge is near the end of its life, we have taken a couple of additional steps in terms of monitoring this bridge until the replacement bridge is built," DeChellis said. "We are inspecting this bridge yearly instead of every two years. The type of traffic this bridge is subject to is local, the regional traffic is on the I-5. When Caltrans has to close I-5 for whatever reason, we are going to be monitoring this bridge daily because of the newer, heavier trucks. We need to ensure that the bridge is standing up to that traffic."
In addition, he said that all bridges in the county are field-reviewed after earthquakes measuring 4.5 or more on the Richter Scale.
"Depending on the epicenter, we check all bridges in the area that could have been subject to extraordinary forces because of the earthquake," he said.