Group finds 'structurally deficient' bridges in Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

The structurally deficient bridges and overpasses are mostly along our busiest freeways. But despite claims of safety by Caltrans, a transportation watchdog group says these roads here are not being inspected often enough.

Drivers go over and under them every day without a thought of how well built or maintained Valley bridges and overpasses are.

"It's kind of frightening now that you can't even, you shouldn't have a thought about the safety of that stuff, it should be done," said Kandi Smith. She drives on the deficient bridges and overpasses every day. She's concerned over her travel.

Transportation for America, a group based in Washington, D.C. that advocates for driver safety, says the deficient ranking means those structures require extra maintenance and inspection.

"That's kinda scary cause not only do I do it in a car but I also ride on my motorcycle over and under all those," Smith said.

Fowler Avenue, where it crosses over Freeway 168, is on the list. So is Freeway 168 where it passes over Herndon Avenue. That is surprising information to Smith for the 14-year-old freeway. "I could see if the bridge or the freeway was like 99 and 50-80 years old. But still there should be money out there that they should be inspected all the time," she said.

Sections of Freeway 99 are also on the list. And so is every direction of travel on the freeway 41 and freeway 180 interchange. TFA records show Valley inspections are one or more years behind schedule.

Caltrans says all open roads are safe. And inspectors follow a schedule to rate the roads. They "have the power to immediately take whatever action is necessary to protect public safety, including closing a bridge until repairs are made," the department said in an email to Action News.

In addition to the statewide Caltrans inspectors, the local office says crews drive Valley freeways and look at the bridges much more frequently. California is ranked 18th in the country for deficient bridges.

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