A co-worker came into my office this morning to tell me about the trip he almost-but-not-quite took to Big Sur last weekend. Big Sur is a scenic area on California’s central coast, popular with tourists and locals alike. One way to get there is—or at least, was—to take Highway 1.
That highway is partially closed now, though, because of an incredibly unfortunate series of events, including mudslides and rockslides, as well as damage to a bridge. Recent heavy rains caused the slides, which in turn damaged the support columns of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge. Caltrans, the state’s department of transportation, says the bridge is irreparable and will need to be torn down and replaced, a process that could take the better part of a year. You can see video of the damage here.
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This ties in with discussions we’ve been having lately around the office about the American Society of Civil Engineers’ latest report card on America’s infrastructure. It was released on March 9, and the overall grade is D+, the same as it was on the last report card, issued in 2013. Bridges fared a bit better than average, with a grade of C+, although according to ASCE more than 9% of the country’s bridges are structurally deficient; their average age across the US is 43 years.
It’s possible, of course, for rains and rockslides to damage a bridge of any age at any time, but similar closures and long repair or replacement times will undoubtedly be happening in many parts of the country. You can see on ASCE’s report card site the grades for the various infrastructure categories—including dams, ports, railways, roads, drinking water, handling of solid and hazardous wastes, and more—as well as a breakdown by state.
An important footnote here, Forester University is offering a Master Class Series titled “Accountable Sediment and Erosion Control Plans.”
Jerald Fifield, Ph.D. and Tina Evans, P.E. provide comparisons to demonstrate the difference between erosion rates, present the mechanics of sediment yield and complete a sediment yield to runoff volume comparison with an understanding of how the volume of sediment in runoff waters varies and impacts commonly found BMPs on construction sites.
Click here for more information.