International Bridge Technologies

Otay River Bridge –
San Diego, California

Technical details
South Bay Expressway and Caltrans

Construction Completed: 2007

Detailed design and construction engineering, technical assistance on site.
San Diego, California
Prime Consultant: Washington Infrastructure Services
SYSTRA IBT’s Role: Bridge Design Consultant


Main Span: 90.5 m (297 ft)
Total Length: 1,012 m (3,320 ft)
Width: 23.1 m (75 ft)

The Otay River Bridge, an award-winning structure, is part of a 15 km (9 miles) toll road connection between State Route 54 south of San Diego, California, and State Route 905 near the Mexican border. This remarkable 1,012 m (3,320 ft) long bridge serves as a high-level valley crossing, featuring pier heights reaching up to 55 m (180 ft) and twelve 90 m (295 ft) spans at the south end of the project.

It was one of only two precast segmental bridges in California at the time of construction. The bridge consists of twin variable-depth box girders with a total width of 23.2 m (76 ft) connected by a transverse diaphragm at the piers and a cast-in-situ slab along the centerline of the bridge. Three moment-resisting expansion joints are located at mid-spans to facilitate thermal expansions and contractions.

The superstructure is supported on cast-in-place piers resting on drilled shaft foundations. The connection between the superstructure and the piers is monolithic to help resist high seismic loads.

The precast segmental box girders were erected in a balanced cantilever from the top using an overhead gantry. The design allowed for the single gantry to erect both side-by-side box girders simultaneously.

The toll road is a design-build project funded with private financing. Ultimately, it will be owned by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans); therefore, the Otay River Bridge was designed in accordance with Caltrans’ rigorous standards for state-of-the-art bridges in high seismic zones.

The Otay River Bridge achieved remarkable recognition by winning three prestigious
PCI Awards in 2008. This exceptional bridge, renowned for its innovative design and construction, was honored with the Harry H. Edwards Industry Advancement Award, Bridges with Spans More than 150 ft., and the All-Precast Solution Award.

Additonal awards:

  • 2006 Ready Mixed Concrete Assoc. – Cornerstone Concrete Excellence Award
  • 2007 San Diego American Concrete Institute – Large Vehicular Bridge Award
  • 2007 ASBI – Bridge of Excellence Award
  • 2008 PCA – Bridge of Excellence in Concrete Bridges Award
  • 2008 CELSOC – Engineering Excellence Merit Award
  • 2008 CA Construction – Best of Recognizing Excellence Award
  • 2008 Post-Tensioning Insitute Outstanding Achievement Award of Merit

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