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Other Budget Issues

Last Updated: 2/12/2010
Budget Issue: The budget requests nine positions and $1.3 million in federal funds per year for ten years to perform bridge load rating evaluations for 6,800 bridges in order to meet federal requirements (BCP #7).
Program: Department of Transportation
Finding or Recommendation: We recommend holding this item open and requiring Caltrans report at budget hearings on alternative ways (and the respective costs) of completing this work more expeditiously, instead of over ten years.
Further Detail

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requires all bridges to have a load rating, which essentially determines how much traffic a bridge can safely carry. The FHWA has deemed the load ratings on 6,800 California bridges to be insufficient, because they have not been updated in several decades. Caltrans proposes to meet the federal requirement by assigning nine bridge engineers to complete the task over a ten-year period. Because updated load ratings are needed for safety reasons, as well as for federal compliance, we believe the department should look at alternatives that would allow the work to be completed more expeditiously. For instance, Caltrans could contract out some of the work, or assign more state staff to the task in order to complete the work sooner.