Bridge open, Caltrans says it’s “short-term fix”
on November 2, 2009
The Bay Bridge re-opened on Monday morning after six days of closure due to a failed tie rod that caused an additional tie-rod and a cross bar to fall onto the bridge’s upper deck. But CalTrans officials said at a press conference on Monday that the bridge may have to close again for more permanent repairs.
“I’d call this a short term fix,” said CalTrans Chief Engineer Rick Land. “We will move forward to looking for a long term strategy that is more robust.”
The tie-rod failed because of movement caused by Tuesday’s high winds that swept over the Bay Area.
“The overall goal of course is to make sure the bridge remains strong,” California Secretary of Business Transportation and Housing Dale Bonner said at a press conference Monday afternoon. “We have added additional restraining devices to make sure that even if there is some failure, that nothing is going to fall down on to the deck this time.”
Land said daily inspections on the bridge will continue for the next couple of weeks to see if continued monitoring is needed. He said Caltrans workers also plan to look at each eye bar on the bridge once every three months.
It’s the second time in the past two months that the Bay Bridge has closed due to repair needs. Over Labor Day weekend, a crack in one of the bridge’s eyebars was discovered, which led to nearly 70 hours of nonstop maintenance.
“Today, all the evidence continues to show that the eyebar crack has not gotten any worse than it was over Labor Day weekend,” Bonner said.
CalTrans does not have plans to put additional restrictions on the bridge. Nor does the agency plan to close the bridge in the case of more gusty winds. But Lands said that they may be required to limit lanes to allow safe access for inspections, if a storm does occur.
Bonner said he did not believe there to be any connection between maintenance of the currently used bridge and the new structure that is being built. “We’ve been trying very hard to make sure the new span is in place as quickly as possible, in any event, for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with current issues we’re dealing with,” Bonner said.
Land said the new structure is being built because of the “seismic vulnerabilities” of the currently used bridge. “The existing bridge does not have the kind of seismic resistance that we want from such a structure,” said Lands.
He also said it is too early to give an estimated amount of what the repairs will cost, but that an appropriate amount will be spent to make sure the bridge is safe.
Additional reporting by Mary Flynn
Photo by Jake Schoneker
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