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Carquinez Bridge

Eastbound I-80 Bridge

Carquinez Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: April 7, 2013
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
I-80 (Eastbound) Over Carquinez Strait and Railroad (Union Pacific)
Crockett and Vallejo: Contra Costa County, California and Solano County, California: United States
Structure Type
Metal Bolt-Connected Baltimore Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1958 By Builder/Contractor: American Bridge Company of New York, New York

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
1100 Feet (335.28 Meters)
Structure Length
5209 Feet (1587.7 Meters)
Roadway Width
51.8 Feet (15.79 Meters)
5 Main Span(s) and 28 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
23 0015R

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF - HAER Original Plan Sheets, PDF

View Historical Articles About This And The Previous Cantilever Bridge

Please note that the HAER documentation refers to a previous bridge that once stood next to this bridge. It has been included because the history of that bridge is key to understanding this bridge. In 1927, a cantilever bridge was completed at this location. Decades later, a need for more traffic lanes was needed and therefore a second cantilever truss bridge, the one that is extant today, was completed in 1958, allowing the 1927 cantilever to carry westbound traffic only while the new bridge carried eastbound traffic. This bridge assumed the same overall cantilever truss design as the 1927 bridge, and its trusses were also designed with the same arrangements and configurations. However, the composition of the beams that made up the trusses of the new bridge were completely different in design, foregoing rivets, v-lacing and lattice for welds, rolled beams, and built-up beams with welded plate with punched holes. As a result, the 1958 bridge looks very much like the 1927 bridge when viewed from elevation at long distances, but up close it looks very different.  In 2003, the highly significant historic 1927 bridge was replaced by a new suspension bridge. This solution was chosen to address seismic issues rather than simply preserving the historic bridge through a seismic retrofit. It should be noted that this replacement bridge was built on a slightly different alignment so that the historic 1927 bridge remained in place after its completion. As such, the 1927 bridge was able to carry traffic while the 1958 bridge received a seismic retrofit. In 2007, despite the fact that the historic bridge was not in the way of its replacement bridge, and despite its high level of historic significance, this bridge was demolished.

In the wake of the demolition of the 1927 bridge, the 1958 bridge, while nowhere near as significant, does have some historic significance. It still conveys the truss configuration of the 1927 bridge. It also is a relatively early example of a long-span type bridge that used welded built-up beams as opposed to riveted built-up beams. With its truss configuration the same as the 1927 bridge, but with these welded built-up beams (and connected by bolted connections rather than rivets) the 1958 bridge made a unique comparison to the 1927 bridge since it was a way to see how essentially the same bridge design was built in different decades, and thus it nicely illustrated how fabrication and truss fastener technologies had evolved. Today, the bridge is an increasingly rare example of a cantilever truss bridge, and so its historic significance grows as a result.

While today, bridge historians have gained an appreciation for the beauty and craftsmanship in earlier riveted truss bridges, it is interesting to note that when the 1958 bridge was built its use of bolted connected and its lack of v-lacing and lattice were described in news articles as both better in terms of design, but were also described as more aesthetically pleasing with their simple, streamlined appearance in comparison to the 1927 bridge. It is odd how times change, since in today's world where bridges suffer visually from excessive simplicity and plainness, it is hard to imagine that the 1927 bridge with its v-lacing and lattice forming a unique geometric art as anything but beautiful.


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