Caltrans insists that the thousands of bridges it maintains are safe, but has identified 228 spans that officials have earmarked at the top of the list for repairs.
Officials said these bridges aren’t in danger of collapse but are considered top priorities for fixes based on factors such as structural problems and how heavily traveled the spans are. Those on the list received a "sufficiency rating" by inspectors of lower than 50, based on a possible top score of 100. Each bridge's score was calculated by weighing various factors such as structural adequacy and safety, which accounted for 55% of the rating.
Among the bridges on the list are the Santa Monica Freeway viaduct, 5/10/101 split and 5/60 interchange. Seventeen of the bridges are in Los Angeles County.
The announcement comes after the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis that prompted transportation officials and engineers across the country to reinspect their own bridges and rush to guarantee their safety.
Mark DeSio, deputy director of external affairs for the California Department of Transportation, said the agency has reinspected all of the bridges similar to the Interstate 35W bridge, and engineering experts said the types of environmental and structural problems that faced the Minnesota bridge are different from the problems facing spans in California.
Caltrans, which operates more than 2,000 bridges in Los Angeles County alone, said its bridges throughout the state are safe to drive on.
"If a bridge was deemed not to be safe, it would be immediately closed until it was repaired," DeSio said.
Federal officials have classified thousands of bridges throughout California as being "structurally deficient"—but local officials stressed that that did not mean the spans were in any danger of collapsing like the one in Minneapolis.
In fact, they said, California might be in better shape than other parts of the country because bridges here are already designed to withstand earthquakes.