Bay Bridge may avoid further lane closures 

Bay Bridge lane closures to finalize repairs to a damaged support beam could be avoided, state transportation officials plan to tell state lawmakers Tuesday.

After a crack was discovered by inspectors in an eyebar over Labor Day weekend, Caltrans repaired the bridge using rods and cables to hold the weight that the cracked eyebar was designed to carry.

But the rods and cables fell onto rush-hour traffic in heavy winds Oct. 27, leading to a nearly weeklong bridge closure while officials redesigned and replaced the steel repair components.

After the fix was enhanced to withstand winds and replaced, several bridge lanes were closed during December evenings while a more robust repair was implemented. That work involved cutting away and replacing the rusted section of eyebar.

The section of eyebar is not as strong as a complete eyebar because it is pierced by bolts.

Caltrans previously warned that additional lane closures might be needed while a new eyebar is installed to supplement or replace the latest fix.

However, the current repair is holding up well and a new eyebar might not be needed, Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said Sunday. That could help avoid further lane closures.

“We may end up fabricating a steel piece and keeping it in the warehouse,” Ney said. “If we need to down the line, we could potentially install it.”

The repairs have cost toll-payers more than $20 million, Caltrans Director Randell Iwasaki told lawmakers last month.

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was among the lawmakers who scheduled a 1:30 p.m. hearing Tuesday on the eyebar repairs and the Bay Bridge’s deadly S-curve.

The S-curve was installed over Labor Day weekend and will slow commutes by 10 mph until the eastern bridge span is replaced, which might occur in 2013.

The short stretch of roadway will cost toll-payers $504 million to design and build, according to the project’s latest quarterly financial update. That is several times greater than a $132 million estimate made in 2005.

Leno said Caltrans officials will also be quizzed Tuesday about efforts to replace the eastern span.

That project has suffered from severe delays and cost overruns that are contributing to persistent toll hikes.

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