These are the best of times for replacing or reinforcing bridges in Stanislaus County.
Modesto is doing a major upgrade of the Carpenter Road bridge at the Tuolumne River, but county government has more than 20 bridge projects in development. Some will replace vital traffic links, while others will redo some of the oldest road bridges still in service in the county.
County Public Works Director Matt Machado said the county's 230 bridges were evaluated for seismic deficiencies after the 1989 Loma Prieta quake and the Northridge earthquake in 1994. A lot of bridge work was done in California after the quakes; however, there has been less urgency in Stanislaus County to fix vulnerable bridges with funds made available by federal and state government.
Local projects are moving through the pipeline now. For example, work should begin on a retrofit of the Geer Road bridge at the Tuolumne River this winter. No major traffic delays are expected.
“We started working on a lot of these in 2008 or 2009,” Machado said. “It’s taken a long time to get through the environmental work and the design phase. It just takes time to get these projects done.”
This week, county supervisors approved the replacement of the Crows Landing Road bridge over the San Joaquin River. Frequent travelers on the 670-foot structure are West Side residents and farmers, but the bridge also is considered one of three critical links for emergency access in the county.
The other two critical bridges are the Ninth Street structure in Modesto and the McHenry Avenue crossing of the Stanislaus River.
Officials say the Crows Landing Road bridge is obsolete and could fail in a strong earthquake. The county will replace it with a two-lane bridge with a turn lane down the middle, Machado said.
The new span will be wide enough if additional lanes are needed in the future, he said. Crews are expected to start a two-year project to build the new span in 2015 just north of the existing bridge. Drivers will use the older bridge until the new one is finished.
San Joaquin County is taking the lead on a project to replace the McHenry Avenue bridge starting in 2015 or 2016.
The county has hired a Folsom firm to engineer a modern bridge at Tim Bell Road and Dry Creek, in an isolated area northeast ofWaterford. Built in 1915, the historic bridge is a concrete arch with a wood railing. It could turn 100 years old before work is done to replace it.
A full list of Stanislaus County bridge projects in development is at http://www.stancounty.com/publicworks/pdf/bridge-repair-projects.pdf