Contract to study Carpenter bridge up for vote tonight

The City Council tonight could take steps to hasten an effort to repair the Carpenter Road bridge in west Modesto.

Modesto and the state Department of Transportation have been trying to shore up the bridge with a seismic retrofit since 1997, when a study concluded that the repairs were needed.

That work went on hold in 2003 when the state pulled funding for the project and for other bridge repairs around the state.

Modesto wants to update its plans for the project to put the city in a better position to secure state and federal grants that would foot the bill for what's expected to be a more than $12 million retrofit.

"The majority of it is available now" through a state grant that could pay as much as 89 percent of the total cost, said Modesto senior civil engineer Vicky Dion.

The council is scheduled to vote on awarding a $357,450 contract to Dokken Engineering of Folsom to complete studies that could help Modesto find funding sources for the other 11 percent.

Dokken wrote a project design report on the Carpenter bridge a year ago that said the span is vulnerable because of sandy soil that could liquefy under the Tuolumne River, weakening the bridge.

The state does not consider the bridge "structurally deficient."

Repairs would be expected to make the bridge as wide as the road that leads to it and improve its railing.

The Carpenter bridge has a sufficiency rating of 70.5 percent based on a number of safety factors, according to the Dokken report. Bridges are considered sound with a rating of 100 percent.

They are eligible for federal rehabilitation funds when their sufficiency ratings dip below 80 percent.

The Modesto City Council meets tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at or 578-2366.