Otis M. Hutchinson: Weight adds cost to bridges

February 13, 2014 

Having been involved in highway structures for 42 years, both in construction and design, I feel that your article “Caltrans misses some spots” (Feb. 10, Page B1) needs some clarification. These spots were omitted, not missed.

I believe the potholes that raised a question from an inquisitive reader are not in the deck of a structure (bridge or an under-crossing), but possibly in the approaches. From my experience, the elimination of asphalt concrete (AC) on decks of structures is done to conserve weight – not for financial reasons. Depending on the design, if there were to be additional weight placed on the decks, there is a possibility these structures would have to be strengthened – that is where the money lies.

At the Atwater overhead structures, for instance, the “deck on deck,” where a new concrete deck was placed over the existing deck, it was necessary to pre-stress or strengthen the existing steel girders. That was an expensive operation.

OTIS H. HUTCHINSON

Merced

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