Hwy 880 lanes in Oakland now open

July 18, 2008 6:43:09 PM PDT
An example of how California's roadways are crumbling showed on Friday, when a three-foot sinkhole on the 880 freeway required emergency repairs and it wasn't the first time that spot has gone bad.

Those emergency repairs on 880 meant shutting the two right lanes for seven hours on Friday, causing long traffic delays. That section of road has already been repaired several times and is scheduled to be replaced.

880's High Street overcrossing is a bumpy patchwork of repairs. This morning a Caltrans crew noticed one of those patches was breaking apart, so two of the northbound lanes were closed for an emergency fix.

From about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., traffic backed up for miles while workers hammered apart the crumbling patch and re-inserted rebar and concrete.

"Do you know how much you were slowed down?" asked ABC7's Heather Ishimaru. "Oh gosh probably an hour," replied Lydia Percins, a driver on her way from Stanford to Fairfield.

Caltrans says the overpass is overdue for replacement. That project is scheduled for next year.

"This overpass originally opened up in 1949 and it was widened in 1955 and 1961. It originally opened up back when 880 was known as Highway 17," said Caltrans Spokesman Bob Haus.

Regardless, Haus says it's not in jeopardy of falling down and U.C. Berkeley structural engineer William Ibbs Ph.D. agrees.

"The asphalt or the material on the pavement itself, is generally designed for a 20 year period of time. The structure, the steal, or the concrete that's really supporting the system is designed for 60 years or longer," said Ibbs.

Still, this High Street overpass is an example of the backlog of transportation projects in the state. Senate President Don Perata (D) says the $20 billion transportation bond approved by voters in 2006, is just a down-payment on what's really needed.

And even when funding is available, like for the overpass, there is a complicated process from design to construction, which was supposed to begin in 2006.

"It's taken all this time to get final agreement, a final sign off, so that it can begin work, and it starts next year and will be completed in 2012," said Perata.

Total cost of the project, $175 million. Caltrans says it will not require closure of the existing overpass.


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