ISLETON (CBS13) – The Rio Vista Bridge was shut down on Thursday night as Caltrans finds a short-term fix.
The bridge got stuck in the up position after a mechanical failure on Aug. 10. Engineers finally got it down but now they’re trying to lift it manually.
“The Coast Guard doesn’t like that the ships can’t get through, and Caltrans doesn’t want to leave it open because Highway 12 is a problem,” said Larry Brickman, who lives near Rio Vista.
Caltrans decided to close the bridge to traffic from 7 p.m. on Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday. The goal: to lift the bridge manually and perfect a way to repeat the process until a permanent fix is in place.
Thousands of cars have to take a detour and Caltrans is hustling to get emergency resources in place. And all of it over a broken gearbox. Last Thursday, the Rio Vista Bridge got stuck in the up position and after finally getting it lowered down, it got stuck again.
“All the commuters and all the truckers, it’s a problem,” Brickman said. “It just turned everything off.”
Caltrans spokesman Gilbert Mohtes-Chan if the engineers have a solution in mind.
“We’re looking at doing a manual lift,” he explained. “To manually lift the bridge to raise it for the ships to pass underneath.”
That requires cables strung up on the counterweights. Then, they’ll use a wench.
“Basically pulling the counterweights down manually,” Mohtes-Chan said.
With the bridge down, ships heading to and from the Port of West Sacramento can’t operate.
“Once we get it into operational mode for the ships, it’ll go flawlessly,” Mohtes-Chan said.
Still, it’s a temporary fix until Caltrans gets the new motor gearbox within the next month. Until then, roughly 25,000 motorists who use the bridge daily have to be flexible. When the bridge is closed, it takes a two-hour detour just to get to the other side.
Brickman says bridge troubles lead to slow days for his business: Long Island Larry’s Hot Dog Truck.
“The days when the bridge is out and Highway 12 is closed, it kind of stops everything in our town!” he told CBS13.
And he’s hoping any future closures won’t affect his trip to Sacramento next week.
“One way or the other, we’ll get there!” Brickman said.
It takes 20 minutes to raise and lower the bridge when it’s working. And typically that happens 6 times a day. Caltrans says once they figure out how to raise it, they’ll come up with a schedule and decide how many times they’ll go through the process each day.