Mind the gap
Transportation group says several Pasadena-area bridges are ‘structurally deficient’
By Jake Armstrong 04/07/2011
The Colorado Street Bridge sets a striking image for Pasadena, but it’s the quality of the bridges surrounding it that’s caught the critical eye of a national group pressing for more federal infrastructure spending.
Transportation for America — a broad coalition of policy, transportation and other groups that counts Mayor Bill Bogaard and Councilwoman Jacque Robinson among its members — last week released a report indicating five of 60 bridges in the Pasadena area are “structurally deficient” and in need of a significant overhaul or replacement. That’s on top of the 69,200 bridges nationwide and 3,130 in California — about 12 percent in both cases — that also rank as structurally deficient.
Three bridges crossing the Arroyo Seco — Holly Street at Arroyo Boulevard, and Oak Grove and La Loma roads, which carry a combined average of 16,600 cars per day and were built as early as 1914 — received low marks for the quality of their roadways, superstructures and substructures, according to the report.
Most bridges are inspected every two years, but those rated as structurally deficient are usually inspected every year, according to the group. The report indicated the Holly Street and Oak and La Loma roads’ bridges had not been inspected since August 2008.
Also ranking as deficient were Foothill (210) Freeway bridges spanning Lincoln Avenue and Hill Street, which together carry an average of 250,000 cars per day. The deficiency in both bridges is the quality of the roadway, according to the report.
The Colorado Street Bridge, which gleaned the moniker “Suicide Bridge” from its 98-year history of jumpers, would not be rated as structurally deficient because it is already considered “functionally obsolete.”
Robinson said backing the group’s call for renewal of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act — or SAFETEA, a $244 billion highway safety spending bill that expired in 2009 — makes sense right now, as the city is in the process of updating the mobility element of the general plan, the blueprint for transportation.
Transportation for America’s report, “The Fix We’re in For: The State of Our Bridges,” is based on the Federal Highway Institute’s 2010 National Bridge Inventory.
The Washington DC-based group’s Web site included a ticker counting down the days lapsed since expiration of the most recent federal transportation bill, a tally that broke the 450-day mark last week.
“As Congress takes up the next six-year transportation bill, it is imperative that we devote a larger share of funding to protecting our bridges” James Corless, director of Transportation for America, said in a press release on the report. “Americans also want to see more accountability for maintaining our infrastructure.” He added that 64 percent of voters say current federal infrastructure spending is inefficient and unwise, according to a February poll for the Rockefeller Foundation.