Bay Bridge Problems: 25% of Rods Exposed to Corrosion

Bay Bridge (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty admitted on Thursday that the sleeves of 120 of the 400 “high-strength” rods anchoring the tower of the new Bay Bridge to its foundation are immersed in salt water that could corrode them.

Dougherty argued that it is impossible for the bridge’s foundation to be completely watertight, but allowed that saltwater intrusion should be addressed. The foundation structure has “sensitivity to water getting to some components. We need to protect this–we need to come up with a solution,” he said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Caltrans said half of the 120 rods at risk fill with more than half a foot of water in mere weeks. 32 rods failed on the bridge’s seismic-stabilizer structures in 2013 from embrittlement, triggering work by Caltrans that cost $45 million. If the current broken rod failed from embrittlement, rods on the span could fail in similar fashion.

The bridge panel will spend $750,000 to test the broken rod and ask experts to analyze the prospective risk to the structure, according to the Chronicle.

The project is currently $50 million in debt.