$1 billion California bridge replacement set to begin in 2026

May 20, 2024

Construction on a $1 billion bridge replacement project over the Stockton Deep Water Channel on Interstate 5 in California is on schedule to begin in 2026, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has said.

The Interstate 5 Stockton Channel Viaduct Replacement Project is expected to be completed in 2031. It is a collaboration among the San Joaquin Council of Governments, City of Stockton, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Resource Agency.

Though rehabilitation alternatives were considered, full replacement was selected because of structural deficiencies and ongoing bridge repairs. The bridges show problems with their concrete and steel components, including long-standing deterioration of the concrete decks, ongoing challenges in maintenance, rust appearing on the steel parts, damaged bracing and cracks in concrete elements.

Caltrans also has concerns about substructure weaknesses, including soil liquefaction possibly triggered by earthquakes.

The project lies in San Joaquin County over and near the Stockton Deep Water Channel and is designed to meet current American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials standards for Load and Resistance Factor Design. Current traffic data show about 133,000 vehicles use the two bridge structures a day, 19% of which is truck traffic.

The replacement bridges will have an expected lifespan of 75 years, and the structure permit load will be improved to accommodate a 15-axle vehicle.

The project will be completed in three stages and entails:

  • Removing existing structures and building bridges for northbound and southbound Interstate 5 and portions of connector ramps.
  • Realigning a portion of Weber Avenue beneath and east of the existing bridges, south of the channel. This will involve removing a portion of the surface street and building a new intersection at Washington Street, south of the existing intersection.
  • Building large bents/columns to support the superstructure and connect to the foundations.
  • Building foundations, including cast-in-drilled-hole piles and/or cast-in-steel-shell piles within and outside the channel.
  • Building retaining walls for embankments due to an increase in roadway elevation.

Photo courtesy of Caltrans

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