RIO VISTA (CBS13) — The Rio Vista bridge serves as the main channel for cargo ships to get in and out of the region, but ships can’t make their way underneath it.
The bridge, which is designed to allow raise and allow ships to pass underneath, was stuck in the “up” position on Thursday. Crews were able to manually lower it so vehicles that were stranded for hours could pass, but raising it for ships is a whole other problem.
The bridge is old, dating back to 1944. Transportation officials say age could be the reason why the gearboxes that control it are broken.
Parts for the bridge fix could take 30 days to ship from the East Coast, but Caltrans says it doesn’t have that kind of time.
“Right now our teams of engineers are at the location to formulate a plan to lift the bridge manually,” said Caltrans spokesman Dennis Keaton.
Caltrans says manually lifting a bridge, comes with its own concerns, including safety.
Until engineers can figure out how to manually raise the bridge, port operators are getting worried. Just 30 miles from the bridge is anything from cement to rice that’s stranded in West Sacramento.
“A lot of people will be hurt farmers — people who rely on the product,” said Jolynn Ruedas as she passed through.
Operators say it costs owners $20,000 for every day that a vessel sits idle.
“As I understand it the way maritime rules are, ships have the right of way so I think Caltrans has to do something to let ships go up and down the river,” said Rio Vista Mayor Ron Kott.
As nice as that would be for the shipping industry, Rio Vista Mayor Ron Kott says it’ll be a traffic nightmare for his town.
“Well, it’s just kind of a mess. I mean it’s tough for our city because we really get impacted,” he said.
Last week when the bridge was stuck in the up position, many found out that the closest detour is 80 miles away.
So what now?
Caltrans doesn’t have a schedule for that manual lift, but it’s hoping it’ll happen on a weekend when fewer cars are on the road.