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Local bridges need funds

Transportation: Report finds that 13 structures in SCV safe but in need of upkeep

Posted: April 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 3, 2011 1:55 a.m.

A national transportation safety organization found that 13 of the Santa Clarita Valley’s more than 100 bridges are “structurally deficient.”

These bridges must be inspected and maintained more frequently in order to remain safe for drivers, Transportation for America officials said Friday.

The organization’s report is intended to rally support to increase federal spending on bridge repair. Such work has remained underfunded by billions of dollars for several years, officials said.

The SCV is in line with the state, as the report found that 12.8 percent of the more than 24,000 bridges across
California are structurally deficient.

But this doesn’t mean the bridges aren’t safe, said Stephen Davis, a spokesman for the group.

The term “structurally deficient” is a term meant to funnel cash to bridges that need the most upkeep, Davis said.

“People should definitely be concerned, but not alarmed,” Davis said.

All bridges within the city of Santa Clarita are safe and maintained continually, said Curtis Nay, a city engineer. They are examined by Los Angeles County inspectors every two years, he said.

City bridges singled out in the report generally are described as needing minor repairs, like cracks in the roadway, Nay said.

“We have minor issues and we deal with them on a yearly basis.” Nay said. “Structurally deficient doesn’t mean that the bridge is going to fall or is in bad condition or isn’t safe.”

All of the SCV’s structurally deficient bridges were built before 1980 and are listed as deficient generally because of poor roadway conditions. Each bridge is rated in three sections on a 0 to 9 scale.

A bridge’s deck refers to the roadway surface, the superstructure refers to horizontal support beams that buttress the deck, and the substructure connects the support beams to the ground, Davis said.

A stretch of Valencia Boulevard that crosses over the Santa Clara River that was built in 1967, for instance, has a substructure and superstructure that rate high.

The deck, however, rates a 4 out of 9. On average, 58,500 vehicles drive the stretch of bridge each day, making it one of the busiest bridges in the SCV, according to data compiled by the group.

“The (federal government) has been kicking the can down the road,” Davis said. “Money that is intended to be used for bridge repair is being siphoned off for other uses.”


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