BIG SUR – If the tragedy that happened with the collapse of the Florida apartment complex last month taught us anything, it’s the importance of infrastructure maintenance. With many of the Monterey County coastal bridges being 90 years old, their integrity is something that highway officials take seriously.
Caltrans contractors have just begun a $ 13.5 million rehabilitation of the bridge that spans Garrapata Creek, just north of the famous Bixby Creek Bridge and a few miles south of Garrapata State Park along Highway 1.
“Caltrans and its transportation agencies are responsible for supporting safe and efficient transportation over the transportation network in California,” said Kevin Drabinski, a District 5 public information officer. “Maintenance and conservation of transport infrastructure is a critical aspect of this responsibility.”
The building contract was awarded to Future Contractors and Engineers Inc. from Irvine.
The rehabilitation will use a chemical technology that ensures the structural integrity of the reinforcement system running through the cement bridge, without undertaking a major construction that could have a serious impact on the traffic flowing along Highway 1.
Rebar is the steel bone that can hold the body of any cement structure. And like most metals, the rod can also be susceptible to corrosion over time, mostly through chlorides in the cement, which can degrade the structural elements of bridge construction.
The process is called electrochemical chloride extraction, and maintains the health of the bridge and prolongs its life. It works by stopping the active rusting of the steel reinforcement by removing chloride ions – negatively charged chlorine particles that can corrode steel.
The process conducts direct current through a medium such as copper or other conductive metals and an anode, which is a positive electrode. As opposites attract, the chloride ions are brought to the surface and essentially flushed out of the cement to terminate the most active corrosion.
The process has a number of advantages over the costly upgrade of the structural support of the bridge, such as the arches that can carry a bridge’s weight. If Caltrans follows this option, statements should be built on the environmentally sensitive sprout bottom beneath it. The process for the extraction of the electrochemical chloride requires only scaffolds that are hung from above and cause less noise, dust and other environmental pollution.
Moreover, the process for the extraction of the electrochemical chloride retains the aesthetic value of the bridge in 1931, something that historical preservers would applaud.
Caltrans is investing a significant amount to ensure the structural integrity of not only bridges but all forms of transportation infrastructure in the state. According to data released in a 62-page list of planned work, the ten-year project book, Monterey County is destined for about 50 separate projects over the next nine years, of which more than 20 are along Highway 1.
In total, Caltrans plans to spend approximately $ 44 billion during the 2019-20 through 2028-29 financial year. Nearly a third of the funding comes from the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, which is described by the State Transportation Commission as “the first significant, stable and continuous increase in public transportation funding in more than two decades.”
“Sidewalks, bridges and other infrastructure assets require continuous investment to maintain a state of good repair,” Drabinski said.
So, if motorists drive through Garrapata Creek later this fall, they can be assured that this 90-year-old is in great shape.