Repairs begin on Bay Bridge
on October 28, 2009
Updated 10.45 a.m.
Caltrans crews worked through the night to begin repairing a section of the Bay Bridge that collapsed onto the upper deck last night.
“The steel has arrived on site, but the new rods have not been installed yet as working conditions were not only dark, but windy,” said John Goodwin, a Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman. “We should make more progress when the sun comes out and the wind dies down.”
Two high-tension steel tie rods came loose from the Bay Bridge around 5:30 p.m. yesterday, falling onto the upper level of the bridge. One person was injured slightly and three cars were hit. The upper and lower levels were closed to traffic at 7 p.m.
“People should be prepared for the bridge to be closed for at least 24 hours,” Goodwin said last night. “At this point, the word is indefinite.”
The 250,000 passengers who rely on the Bay Bridge scrambled this morning to find other transportation options. 511.org reported westbound very slow traffic on the San Mateo and Richmond-San Rafael Bridges throughout the early commute hours.
The crowding spilled onto the Alameda/Oakland ferries, who were operating on a Labor day schedule this morning, with ferries scheduled to leave from Oakland to San Francisco every 30 minutes. “The commute was definitely more crowded,” said Janice Peterson, an early morning ferry commuter. “People were standing.” She arrived at 6.30am only to find there was no ferry for forty-five minutes. “The ferry workers were as confused as the riders were about what was going on,” she said.
Goodwin said that BART had longer trains in service last night to help commuters during the evening rush hour, and will continue running longer trains today. “The commute was pretty normal,” said Lauren Berkman, a commuter traveling from Oakland to Embacedero this morning. “It’s always packed in the morning, if my normal commute was a seven on a scale of one to ten, this morning it was an eight.”
The broken tie rods were part of the September repairs that shut down the bridge completely for four and a half days. Contractor C.C. Myers, the same company that handled emergency repairs of a cracked eyebar in September, will be involved in fixing the section of the bridge that broke last night.
“It’s going to be a similar supply chain as we saw over Labor Day weekend,” said Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney.
The bridge malfunction came after the CHP issued a wind advisory Tuesday morning, which said that motorists on the Bay Bridge and the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge “are advised that gusts reaching 50 mph are forecast for both roadways today.” Strong winds continued into the night, gusts which Ney said could slow the repair process.
“Wind is always a challenge. We’re working through it as much as we can,” Ney said. “Safety is our primary concern. Not only for the public, but for our workers as well.”
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