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Repair Tab for 405/55 Span Soars

Correcting flaws in the carpool flyover could cost as much as $3.5 million -- $1 million more than first estimated.

June 15, 2004|Dan Weikel | Times Staff Writer

A defective carpool bridge that links the San Diego and Costa Mesa freeways might cost as much as $3.5 million to fix -- $1 million more than originally estimated last year, local transportation leaders said Monday.

The Orange County Transportation Authority's board of directors approved an additional $700,000 to $1 million worth of repairs to complete the unopened span, which is more than 18 months behind schedule.

Caltrans officials, who are working with OCTA on the project, said the additional money is needed to inject concrete into voids found inside the girders of the $12-million flyover. The money will come out of contingency funds for the project, requiring no new allocation.

"The majority of the work is done," said Hank Alonso, deputy district director of the Caltrans office in Orange County. "Hopefully, we will be able to finish by the end of the year."

There is a possibility the northbound lanes of the span might be delayed further, he said.

The 60-foot-high connector is part of a $125-million project to improve the San Diego-Costa Mesa interchange, one of the nation's 10 busiest. Building stopped in August 2002 after cracks and failing concrete were discovered along interior girders that support two of the connector's three sections.

Engineers blamed irregularly spaced steel reinforcing bars, thin concrete and too much tension in supporting cables through the concrete girders.

Caltrans and OCTA officials initially feared that much of the connector would have to be ripped out and repaired at a cost of $8 million, three-quarters of the structure's original cost. Engineers concluded in July 2003 that the repairs would cost $2.5 million.

Since then, bridge workers have found more concrete voids surrounding the ducts that carry supporting cables through the interior girders. Caltrans estimates that the additional repairs will cost $700,000 to $1 million.

In other action Monday, the OCTA board approved a $613.3-million budget for fiscal 2004-05. However, the budget does not reflect a pending expenditure of $155 million for the long-awaited widening of the Garden Grove Freeway.

James S. Kenan, the authority's finance director, said the highway allocation will be added to the budget when a legal dispute with Garden Grove is resolved and the project receives final approval.

Authority officials said OCTA would use $572.1 million in revenue and $41.2 million in reserves to pay for $613.3 million in expenses, salaries and capital projects.

Reflected in the new budget are plans to proceed with $56 million in improvements to the Garden Grove Freeway and the county's northern section of the Santa Ana Freeway. About $32 million is earmarked for the Riverside Freeway and about $87 million for local street improvements.

An additional $31 million is budgeted for transit projects, including the CenterLine light-rail project, expanded bus service, express buses and the Metrolink commuter rail system.

The authority's rail manager, Shohreh Dupuis, told board members that OCTA is planning a major expansion of Metrolink service in Orange County over the next 26 years. Dupuis said the number of county Metrolink riders is projected to increase from 2.6 million a year today to 10.8 million a year in 2030.

If the forecasts are accurate, OCTA will increase the number of daily trains from 40 to 98 over the next 26 years. Dupuis also said the authority will spend about $650 million for new track and equipment.

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