Third falling concrete incident in a year on Richmond- San Rafael Bridge raises questions

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- It happened again Friday night-- a third concrete incident on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge this year alone. Not falling this time-- instead coming out of a pothole and splattering a windshield.

All of the incidents and closures have been unsettling for users of a structure that had been so reliable for generations, until now.

RELATED: Caltrans says pothole debris, not falling concrete struck car on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge

"It does alarm me and it is frustrating that this continues to happen," said Tony Tavares, who directs Caltrans for the Bar Area. "It is an old bridge, 65-years-old. It is getting to the point where it needs extra care, if you will."

Hence an $8-million project to replace every cracking seam on the upper deck, followed by a similar project on the lower. They lead to the question of why not build a new bridge? Assemblyman Marc Levine has asked it.

"We know the bridge is failing so we need a plan so that when revenue is available we can build it."

A new bridge would cost an estimated $3-billion, with Caltrans spending $80-million in just the next 10 years just to maintain this one.

Caltrans has commissioned a study to weigh the benefits of a new bridge versus a needed replacement for the road bed.

"The bridge structure is not coming down," said Tavares.

RELATED: Caltrans repairs Richmond-San Rafael Bridge after more concrete falls from upper level

But the 65-year-old concrete has worn out.

"It is a good example of the aging infrastructure around our country," said John Goodwin of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The main obstacle will be finding a source for the funding.

It's one of those recurring themes now presenting itself in the form of too many headlines, too close to home.
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