Fix for faulty bolts finalized, but new Bay Bridge opening date still uncertain 

click to enlarge Although a fix for the Bay Bridge's faulty bolts is finalized, a new opening date is still uncertain. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Although a fix for the Bay Bridge's faulty bolts is finalized, a new opening date is still uncertain.

Transportation officials are scheduled to announce Wednesday a fix for broken bolts on the new span of the Bay Bridge, but it may still be too early to say whether the work will be done in time for the planned Labor Day opening.

In March, inspectors found that 32 steel rods that are used for seismic safety had fractured during tightening. The bolts were part of a batch of 96 from an Ohio-based manufacturer, who also provided 192 rods in 2010.

Caltrans spokesman Will Shuck said Tuesday that eight of the rods from the 2010 batch have been removed from the bridge for examination in a laboratory, which can include bending and chemical tests, among other things. Other testing on the bridge for the rods, which range from 17 to 24 feet in length, includes visual inspections and audio testing, in which highly sensitive sensors are used to detect any cracking as the bolts are tightened, Shuck said. So far no problems have been found.

Transportation officials are scheduled to announce Wednesday at a Metropolitan Transportation Commission meeting the proposed solution for the 96 bolts, which will include some form of an external metal piece since the rods are encased in concrete on the bridge pier. Shuck said the engineering solution can be concluded in time for the Labor Day opening, but with the ongoing testing it’s too early to make a definitive call.

“Both the safety and the solution come first, then the schedule,” Shuck said.

Gov. Jerry Brown also said Tuesday that it is too soon to know about the bridge opening date.

“I can’t tell you when. I don’t want to say anything because we want to get the reports back. When we do, I’ll comment,” Brown said.

The governor also said he believes the public still has confidence in the safety of the new span.

“Don’t know if it’s a setback. I mean, look, s*** happens. That’s all I can say,” Brown said.

It was the first time that Brown had addressed the construction issues.

“There are very professional engineers that are looking at this thing, and when they’re ready to give us their report I think the public will be satisfied,” Brown said.

Shuck said there is some form of testing for every metal piece on the new span.

— Staff, wire report

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