California Department of Transportation

Seismic Retrofit Program

Quarterly Fact Sheet - March 2013

There are more than 12,000 bridges in the California State  Highway system. After the 1971 Sylmar earthquake struck the Los Angeles area and damaged several bridges, the California Department of Transportation (Department) initiated a bridge seismic safety retrofit program focused on bridge expansion joints. The mid-span hinge and support joint retrofit program was completed in 1989 at a cost of $55 million. With the significant loss of life and closure of major routes caused by bridge failure during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Department established the current Seismic Retrofit Programs.

The current Seismic Retrofit Programs have been focused on identifying and retrofitting existing bridges statewide, bringing them up to the latest seismic safety retrofit standards established to prevent collapse during future earthquakes.

  • After the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Department initially identified 1,039 state highway bridges (mostly single-column bridges) in need of being retrofitted to meet seismic safety standards, called the Phase 1 Program.
  • After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the Department identified another 1,155 state-owned bridges (mostly multi-column bridges) in need of being retrofitted, called the Phase 2 Program.
  • Senate Bills 60 and 226 established the Toll Bridge Program and provided initial retrofit funding. Assembly Bills 1171, 144 and 1175 established current funding levels for the nine bridges in the Toll Bridge program.

The state's bridge earthquake strengthening program involves more than 2,200 structures, and costs more than $12 billion. A breakdown of the number of bridges and program costs is as follows:

Seismic Retrofit Programs

Funding for the seismic retrofit programs comes from several sources:

Program Funds

Status of Seismic Safety opening of the remaining bridges:

Seismic Safety Openings

Program Funds*  Prop 192 – proposition 192 passed by voters in November 1996. SHA/HBRR – state (State Highway Account) and federal (Federal Trust Fund) gas tax programs. Tolls – Bay Area Toll Authority toll revenues. Misc Funds – Motor Vehicle Account, Redirect Spillover, Public Transit Account Funds, Vincent Thomas and Coronado funds.

Caltrans Toll Bridge Program