Caltrans officials admitted on Tuesday that problems continue to arise with the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which connects Oakland and San Francisco.
SFGate reported on Tuesday that new revelations indicate that 423 steel rods that anchor the tower of the bridge’s eastern span to its base, has been sitting in potentially corrosive water. The finding is considered to be one of the most significant defects so far discovered involving the $6.4 billion construction project.
Last month, the first signs of troubles surfaced when Caltrans discovered that several of the high-strength, 25-foot-long rods were found to be submerged in several feet of water. At that time officials told members of a bridge project oversight committee that the defect is partially due to insufficient grout injections into the rods protective sleeves designed to keep them dry.
Caltrans contends that the problem is not catastrophic, but that the situation should not have occurred. Brian Maroney, Caltrans’ chief engineer on the bridge project, said “It’s not acceptable, and we’re going to fix it.” Although Maroney appears confident, SFGate reported that, if the rods are indeed corroded, it is unclear how Caltrans would substitute replacement rods, because there’s no room in the chamber to maneuver new ones into position.
Officials said that the testing program for the remaining 2,000 rods and bolts on the span will cost $20 million. Fortunately, many of the rods are not at a high enough tension to cause problems from the water. Moreover, other rods are protected by paint, grease or dehumidifiers.
Caltrans announced that testing should be completed by early next year.