OAKLAND — Years before last week’s frightening collapse of an Interstate 880 overpass guardrail and chain-link fence onto evening rush-hour commuters, the state had declared the overcrossing outdated and dangerous.

But the $105 million project to replace it and an overcrossing just to the south has been slow to materialize, representative of the estimated $57 billion worth of backlogged state highway repairs and replacements that has become a subject of partisan impasse in the state Capitol.

The 23rd Avenue overcrossing was built in 1947 and looks its age. Construction of its replacement, planned since 2009, is expected to begin next year as a contractor finishes rebuilding the 29th Avenue crossing.

Cars speed by under the 23rd Avenue overpass on Interstate 880 in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 where cement barriers have been put in place
Cars speed by under the 23rd Avenue overpass on Interstate 880 in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 where cement barriers have been put in place after about a hundred feet of railings fell on to 880. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group) ( Laura A. Oda )

With gas-tax revenues drying up as more fuel-efficient cars take over the roads in California and across the nation, the race to repair critical highway infrastructure before tragedy strikes is becoming more pressing. Two people were hospitalized in the Oct. 20 collapse.

Infrastructure renewal is a nationwide problem that raises political hackles and is inextricably linked to economic health. In Sacramento and Washington, D.C., Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on how to pay for public works.