Bay Bridge's Structural Stability Questioned Following New Discovery

Bay Bridge's Structural Stability Questioned Following New Discovery

Newly discovered misalignments, in addition to previously reported rusting and cracked welds, on California’s $6.5 billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge allude to the possibility that the bridge could suffer devastating effects when the big one hits.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the bridge’s anchor rods which secure strands of the main cable are not only rusting but are also misaligned and need repair. Out of 274 rods, 205 – which are essential to the span’s structural ability (“span” refers to the distance between the start and finish points on a bridge) – are less than the required 10 millimeters from the inner surface of the holes, which means that in the event of an earthquake, the rods could be badly damaged due to friction or collision with the plates to which they are secured.

Despite the urgency of the situation, this issue did not appear on last week’s release of the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) list of ongoing maintenance concerns, SacBee writes.

Andrew B. Fremier, the deputy executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission who introduced the issue with the rod misalignments, said that officials did not view the problems as being urgent and said it “has the potential for extending the contractor’s time on the project… Obviously anything that extends the time has a cost associated with it,” SacBee notes.

Bridge engineering expert and an emeritus engineering professor at Case Western University Arthur Hucklebridge revealed that the decision by officials to address the issue suggests a relatively extreme situation.

According to SacBee, neither Marwan Nader – a lead designer for the bridge – nor Bill Casey – resident engineer for the suspension span with Caltrans – responded to requests by the newspaper for comment.