Blocked Bay Area roadway could open within 10 days
State officials said Thursday that a section of Interstate 880 blocked by debris from a weekend truck fire and overpass collapse is expected to open within 10 days, but it could be more than a month before the overpass is ready for traffic.
On Sunday, a driver hauling 8,600 gallons of gasoline on the I-880 connector hit a guardrail and the truck overturned underneath the I-580 connector in an interchange just east of the Bay Bridge. The truck exploded and the fuel burned intensely until consumed. The heat damaged both roadways, with the upper I-580 connector collapsing onto the lower I-880 roadway.
With construction crews working around the clock, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the damaged I-880 connector would be fully open to traffic no later than May 13. State engineers have determined that the I-880 connector that bore the brunt of the collapse can be repaired and does not have to be scrapped and rebuilt.
Caltrans head Will Kempton estimated that repairs to the I-880 connector will cost about $8 million, Kempton said.
The agency and its contractors have been working under an emergency declaration by the governor to restore the structure after the crash.
An opening date for the collapsed I-580 connector is more unclear. In step with the governor's directive to fast track the repairs to the I-580 connector, Caltrans Thursday advertised bids for the repairs of the collapsed freeway connector.
The advertising period for this work has been shortened to four days, with bid opening set for Monday at 10 a.m. The project will be awarded later that day, with construction set to begin the next day.
A director's order authorizing up to $20 million for the project has been approved, but Caltrans anticipates the cost will be below that figure. The contract requires the freeway to open to traffic no later than June 29. The agreement provides incentives of $200,000 for every day the contractor finishes ahead of that date. Conversely, a disincentive of $200,000 will be assessed for every day the project is late.
Custom-made steel girders and beams will be used, and sufficient steel and other materials are available.
The winning low-bid contractor will come from a short list of pre-qualified, competent bidders who have demonstrated their ability to build bridges and freeways in California. The state will also encourage small business participation in the reconstruction work.
During construction of the I-580 structure, the I-880 freeway connector will remain open during daytime hours to minimize impacts on Bay Area commuters. There will be intermittent closures of the I-880 ramp on some nights to accommodate the overhead construction.
Caltrans will use an informal bid process to obtain a contractor to replace the I-580 span lost in the fire. The governor has also directed Caltrans to use an incentive-based contract so the work can be done as quickly as possible. The contract is likely to be awarded by May 9.
A similar incentive-based contract was used for reconstruction of damaged freeways in Southern California following the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Those incentives led to the completion of repairs to the Santa Monica Freeway 74 days earlier than expected but also doubled the price of the project.
On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger said costs associated with reopening the two freeway connectors will be paid back through the Federal Highway Administration.