Earthquake could crumble major San Diego bridge

Posted at 6:16 PM, May 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-05 21:17:28-04

A bridge that connects the SeaWorld area to the Midway area could crumble during a major earthquake, a new Coastal Commission report says.

More than 50,000 San Diegans cross the West Mission Bay Drive bridge each day -- a number that's expected to grow to more than 80,000 by 2035.

The century old bridge gives people easy access to Interstate 8, but it can't handle that much traffic and it's showing with cracking asphalt. There could also be additional cracking in spots unseen, the report says.

"During a major seismic event, the soft soil may experience total post-liquefaction settlement of ten to thirteen inches. Furthermore, the supporting timber piles cannot accommodate anticipated lateral forces and resulting displacements, and thus collapse is a significant concern," the report says.

The city of San Diego is asking the Coastal Commission to allow it to tear down the bridge and build two new ones that would be 1,300 feet long, 60 feet wide, with separate bike lanes. It would cost $116 million.

"I actually just read an article yesterday about how the San Andreas fault is nearing its breaking point," said Joe Livosci, who just opened an auto body shop down the street from the bridge.

A spokesman for the city said the bridge is safe.

"The city is moving forward to replace the bridge and is confident that the current bridge will be safe for transit until the new bridge is installed," he said.

The Coastal Commission report also says the bridge is functionally obsolete since it can't handle the traffic.

The commission will consider the city's application on Wednesday, and if approved, construction could start in 2017 and take two years.