Richmond: Bridge drivers asked not to use surface streets amid delays

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Aerial shot of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge in San Francisco Bay (Getty Images)

Traffic delays are expected to the continue on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge for the next several weeks as Caltrans continues necessary bridge maintenance and repairs. Given that, the Richmond Police Department is asking motorists not to use city streets as a detour.

Navigational apps like WAZE that direct motorists to surface streets in Richmond will “only increase your drive time,” RPD stated in an online post today.

RPD advised motorists to plan ahead as Caltrans continues its $8 million project to repair 31 expansion joints on the upper deck. The three-month project started in February after concrete chunks fell from the upper to lower deck of the 63-year-old bridge, damaging a car and prompting a nine-hour bridge shut down. Weeks later, more concrete pieces fell from the upper to lower deck. Early this month, pothole debris kicked up and struck a car windshield.

Another 30 joints on the lower deck will be repaired later this year, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). The repairs have delayed the project to create a bicycle and pedestrian path along the span’s westbound lanes. Last year, a third eastbound lane was opened during peak commute hours to alleviate increasing traffic.

The bridge has a total of 856 deck joints, of which 795 were rebuilt in the early 2000s as part of the seismic retrofit of the bridge or through other rehab projects. The remaining 61 joints “are located in the bridge’s 289-foot truss sections and date to the span’s original construction in the 1950s,” according to MTC.

Meanwhile, a separate project was set to begin this week to to conduct tests determining the bridge’s potential lifespan — part of a plan to review state-run bridges over the next year.

Assemblymember Marc Levine has also floated the idea of building a new bridge.

RPD and city staff are working with Caltrans and the CHP “to identify solutions to these problems that have only become worse with the unforeseen bridge repairs,” the RPD stated.

“If you must use the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, please be patient and remain on the freeway to approach the bridge,” RPD said.