Foster City and Shell Boulevard Bridges are Safe
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For Immediate Release: May 31, 2013
Contact: ‘Andra Lorenz, Management Analyst, (650) 286-3215, alorenz@fostercity.org

The question has been raised about the safety of the Foster City bridges as the one on Shell Blvd. and the one on Foster City Blvd. have been classified as "functionally obsolete." This classification is established by the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) through a routine physical inspection every two years. These inspections are performed by highly trained and experienced civil engineers and technicians. These inspectors assess the condition of the structure, recommending repairs and other action necessary to preserve the bridge.

There are two aspects that are reviewed and rated by Caltrans one being structural sufficiency and the other functional sufficiency. The sufficiency ratings are used to determine if a bridge is eligible for federal bridge program funding. The structural sufficiency evaluates the structural condition and even when a bridge is deemed structurally deficient it does not mean the bridge is unsafe. In Foster City the structural sufficiency rating is very good which answers the question, "How Safe Are Foster City Bridges?" They are very safe.

As stated above, Foster City does have two bridges that have been rated as functionally obsolete. Being functionally obsolete is a design or configuration issue not one of structural adequacy. To clarify these bridges do not meet current standards for bridge width (specifically shoulder width) or roadway alignment. That is to say, if these bridges were constructed today they would not look the same.

In 1996, after the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Foster City Blvd. and Shell Blvd. bridges over the lagoon were seismically retrofitted to bring them up to current earthquake standards. Other Foster City bridges were found to meet those current earthquake standards.

Once again, the Foster City bridges are inspected by Caltrans every two years and the ratings show the condition of our bridges are very good. If you have any question you may contact Brad Underwood, Director of Public Works at (650) 286-3270 or bunderwood@fostercity.org.

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