San Francisco Bay Bridge Drivers are Guinea Pigs

Editor comments

Caltrans Management appears to be using Bay Bridge drivers as test subjects for one of the worst bridge designs and executions in recent memory as they continue to deny the seriousness of the problems and refuse expert advise, coming from the Feds, State, and even their own engineers, on how to mitigate the damage already found.

Is there a deliberate cover-up on one of biggest blunders in Caltrans history? Why is there no high level investigation into any aspect of one of the most expensive and controversial engineering projects undertaken in California in recent memory? Why are they rushing to tear down the old bridge? Are they afraid it may withstand the next big quake and the new bridge will fail?  These questions and many more need to answered.

According to the following SFGate  article, there is a history of Caltrans ignoring expert warnings and concerns as the bridge was being built and tested. They appear to categorically refuse to follow any expert advice. Why are the people making the decision to ignore warnings that have proven accurate to date,  still employed and making those decisions?

What are the priorities of our local governments? Where is the alarm and oversight coming from within the ranks of the state and regional transportation authorities appointed by the state? Where are MTC and ABAG? Are they so involved in their own disputes that they have no time to protect the Bay Bridge? Are city governments so intent on growing populations that they have no time to protect the citizens?

Bay Bridge risks, solutions debated as leaks invade foundation

By Jaxon Van Derbeken: sfgate – excerpt

It wasn’t long after workers finished pouring concrete at the bottom of the new eastern Bay Bridge’s tower foundation that the cracks emerged.

Some of the fissures that began to show up in April 2007 were minor, but the two largest were anything but — they were more than 10 feet long and cut through the 20-inch-thick, steel-bar-reinforced concrete layer designed to block corrosive salt water from reaching the foundation frame and tower anchor bolts that provide stability in a major earthquake.

Caltrans made what turned out to be a crucial decision that spring: Rather than demolish the crack-riddled slab and start over, it approved the contractor’s plan to inject the fissures with industrial-grade glue.

Now the concrete repair has failed, and water is flowing into the foundation and filling the sleeves that hold the 25-foot-long rods anchoring the tower. Some of the 400-plus rods have developed rust and micro-cracks, and at least one rod has broken.

Confronted with the stubborn flooding, Caltrans and the three-official panel that oversees the eastern span project recently made another potentially fateful decision: They would study a way to deal with the rods, but not install equipment that could detect and even counter the threat of water-borne corrosion to the foundation itself, overriding the advice of federal highway officials and some of the state’s own engineering consultants.

Caltrans confident

Caltrans and the bridge’s design firm maintain that the foundation’s steel frame is robust enough to do its main job — provide stability in a major earthquake — even if it is beset by corrosion.

“We continue to have complete confidence” that if salt water keeps invading the foundation, the structure can “withstand a 1,500-year seismic event throughout the 150-year bridge design life,” Robert Dameron, an engineer with the design firm joint venture T.Y. Lin International/Moffatt and Nichol, wrote in a September memo to Caltrans officials.

But experts outside Caltrans say there is no way to be sure the foundation can retain its strength, given the unpredictability of saltwater corrosion’s effects inside steel-and-concrete structures.

“You don’t want to shrug it off,” said Jack Tinnea, a 35-year veteran bridge-corrosion consultant who has worked with government agencies and companies on marine projects from Alaska to Mexico. “I have no idea where (the water) is traveling, and neither do they.”

Running late

When the foundation concrete cracks emerged in 2007, Caltrans quickly realized that 22 of them were wider than the agency deemed acceptable.   But the bridge project was already behind schedule, and ordering the foundation rebuilt would have added months to the job.

Instead, Caltrans had the cracks filled with high-strength industrial glue, then lowered the structure into the bay.

By 2014, water started showing up in the sleeves that hold the 25-foot-long anchor rods. At first the source appeared to be rain, but later tests showed it was salt water seeping in through the foundation.

After convening a panel of experts, Caltrans officials downplayed the flooding danger to the foundation, which now sits atop 13 steel-and-concrete piles driven into the bay floor… (more)

SFMTA Announces Amendments To City’s Towing Policy

thesfnews – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO—The city of San Francisco will be amending their current towing policy for stolen vehicle recovery in an effort to assist victims who have lost their cars and are faced with hefty fines for having their cars impounded. 

The city’s municipal transportation authority announced on Thursday, November 19, that starting on Tuesday, December 1, victims who have had their cars stolen and impounded will pay lower fees to recover their vehicles. “This new policy will waive all fees for San Francisco residents, and allow for a 48-hour grace period before the contractor’s storage fees begin to accrue.” 

Under San Francisco’s current policy, city residents are fined up to $294 in towing and storage fees if the stolen vehicle is not recovered within only a four-hour grace period. Non-residents of San Francisco face charges as much as $563 under the city’s current policy if the vehicle has not been recovered within the four-hour grace period.

According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA), the new policy will also require towing companies to include a longer grace period for stolen vehicles to be recovered before accruing storage fees. 

The SFMTA specified that this grace period will be 48 hours for San Francisco residents only. Non-San Francisco residents will receive a 24-hour grace period before storage fees are accrued, and fees will be waived by the city, except for the “Administrative Towing fee,” which will be reduced by 50 percent of its normal price.

According to the SFMTA, “a police report must be filed with and verified by the San Francisco Police Department prior to recovery of the stolen vehicle in order to qualify for the waiver.” 

A chart of the old and new policy’s comparison is displayed on the SFMTA’s website, depicting potential fees that skyrocket up to the $560-range with the city’s old towing policy… (more) 


How To Curb Upper Market’s Double-Parking Problem?

hoodline – excerpt

Tonight at 7pm, you’re invited to join the SFMTA at Sanchez Elementary School (325 Sanchez St.) for a “curb management workshop,” where discussion will focus on how unsafe habits like double-parking might be curtailed with better-designed vehicle parking and loading, bicycle parking and passenger drop-off” areas.

Back in August, you may have noticed changes to crosswalks at some of the busiest intersections in the Castro, including new curbside “safety zones” that carve out space at 16th & Noe, 15th & Sanchez, and 14th & Church along Market Street. These changes are a part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2024.

The safety zones and other quick fixes aren’t the end of what SFMTA has planned along Market Street, however. The agency is still working to implement “important safety improvements on Market Street between Castro Street and Octavia Boulevard for people walking, riding bikes, and driving vehicles.”… (more)

Leave your comments on the source. Some pretty good ones so far.

Keep the MUNI Lines Up on Market Street During Super Bowl Week

November 18, 2015 by

S.F. Looks Into Installing Cameras That Send Automated Speeding Tickets By Mail

By : sfweekly – excerpt

San Francisco wants to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2024 — an ambitious plan, called Vision Zero, that combines new traffic signals and crosswalks with stricter law enforcement. A report released by the City Controller’s Office yesterday examines what could be a controversial new tool in the city’s war on mean streets: Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE).

You’ve no doubt heard of ASE cameras. Major cities such as Chicago are a perpetual Panopticon thanks to them, as are smaller metros including Denver and Portland. The cameras are mounted, Big Brother-style, on infrastructure like light posts or installed on vans that park in targeted neighborhoods. The cameras detect and photograph multiple speeding cars per minute, and issue citations by mail.

Sounds like a plum moneymaker for the city, right?

The report aims to disabuse you of such crazy notions. ASE-issued fines should be lower than traditional speeding tickets, it advises, and ASE vendors “should be compensated based on specific services provided as listed in a contract rather than on the number of citations issued.” Also, warning tickets should be issued for at least 30 days before it’s time to start dispensing the real deal.

“The program is about reducing speeding for safety rather than for revenue generation,” the report says….

…The good news, for opponents of the proposal, is that California state law prohibits speed cameras. San Francisco would have to pressure Sacramento to lift the ban before rolling out ASE here. In New York, the implementation and legislation process took 10 years.

The process here probably won’t be speedy, either… (more)

Super Bowl 50 Committee Asks San Francisco Take Down Muni Wires

by  sanewspost – excerpt

The bundle of joy that is Super Bowl 50 has found yet another way to mess with your commute. Not content to take over Justin Herman Plaza and a chunk of the Embarcadero in the name of a Fan Village — sweeping any and all homeless under the rug in the process — the Super Bowl 50 Committee has plans to remove the unsightly overhead Muni wires along Market Street. That this could potentially disrupt bus lines and streetcar traffic for weeks before and after the event appears to be of little concern.

While the Super Bowl itself is set to take place at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the Fan Village will be right here in San Francisco. With street closures from January 30 to Game Day on February 7, 2016, that section of the city will effectively be shut down for 8 days.

I guess eight days just wasn’t enough.

In conversation with The Examiner, Supervisor Jane Kim confirmed the Super Bowl 50 Committee’s desire to pull down Muni wires.

“The [Super Bow] committee has been very open about it,” explained Kim. “They’ve said that’s what they want. They’ve definitely been asking to take down the overhead wires on Market Street.”

Unnamed sources confirmed with the Examiner that any wire removal would probably cost a “seven-figure number” and necessitate “lots of overtime” to do correctly.

However, the removal is not set in stone. Dan Weaver, a member of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Citizen Advisory Council, told the Examiner that the item is on the agenda for the December 3 meeting of the council.

The meeting, which takes place on Thursday, December 3 at 5:30 p.m., will be held in the 7th floor SFMTA offices at One South Van Ness Avenue. If you can’t attend in person, but wish to make your voice heard, you can always email the committee.

Perhaps the committee’s plan should come as no surprise — after all, in looking back at the Fan Village renderings, all Muni wires are conspicuously absent… (more)

Impacts on the housing market from transit corridors – rising rents.

Oped: by zrants

The astronomical rise in property values is caused by removing height limits and zoning restrictions. Add massive evictions and foreclosures and create a new disruptive quasi-hotel business for transient citizens and you can easily create a housing shortage to boost property values even higher.

Forcing people to give up their cars is one of many tools the new building industrial complex uses to force dense stack and pack housing on a population that hates it. City Hall uses your tax dollars to market their vision of your future by trying to shame you into accepting what they have plan to do to you.

Don’t you want to live in a cool condo over a coffee shop with a gym and a cleaning service instead of in a single family home with your own private yard and garage? No? What’s wrong with you? Are you a NIMBY? No one deserves parking, a car, a yard, a view, or protection from shadows and wind.

Don’t you want a nice clean loud obnoxious sports arena instead of a wide open space next to the bay? We’ll decorate a big public yard with public art and plants, and you can hang out in the shade of our arena. We may even let you sit down and rest if you can afford one of our expensive new brews or tasty treats. Just don’t think of parking anywhere nearby. Bring your smart phone so you can figure out how to get in and out of the area. If you don’t have one, stay home.

Back to the bike paths: The anti-car brigade claim their priority is taking dirty cars off the road to improve air quality, but, the car industry is transitioning into clean electric vehicles. It is all the demolition and dirt from construction sites that is clogging our lungs and pores and making us sick, not the cars. Do you want to breath all those obnoxious fumes while pedaling down a clogged street full of angry motorists and bus drivers? I don’t.

The climate control argument is a lie. Scientists say the main thing wrong with electric vehicles is that there are not enough of them. They want to see more electric powered vehicles and 4 or 5 story homes independently powered by today’s solar technology. Every tall building that goes up puts more shadows on more rooftops and keeps those us dependent on the public power grid system. As many people have stated, follow the money.

How Atlanta’s greater emphasis on biking impacts the housing market

… Turns out, there are just as many reasons to love biking as an adult. It’s flexible and affordable, it’s great exercise, it’s good for the environment and it makes you feel like a kid again. It’s no surprise, then, that biking has emerged as a favorite alternate mode of transportation for many Atlantans who are tired of spending so much time behind the wheel, stuck in traffic.

What is perhaps surprising, though, is how a love of biking can translate into higher values for properties along or near a bike path. A 2011 study from the University of Cincinnati found that homebuyers there were willing to pay a premium of up to $9,000 to be within 1,000 feet of their 12-mile rails-to-trails line.

Studies from other U.S. metropolitan areas have come to similar results. While we don’t have that sort of quantifiable data for Atlanta, we are noticing rising interest and values for homes in close proximity to trails. Whether it’s the long-distance, Georgia-to-Alabama recreational route of the Silver Comet Trail or the around-town connectivity of the Beltline, Atlanta’s bike paths are becoming the latest sought-after address… (more)

Once again bizjournals calls it. This time in Atlanta. Watch the rents go up along those transit corridors as the government removes parking and forces people onto public transit the developers build higher buildings and raise the rates, claiming they need to put more people on the public transit system, which now includes bike lanes. Makes no sense but, that is what they claim.
Not surprising to those of us who saw it coming when they started claiming that parking isn’t free and parking is a privilege not a right. We knew that parking was step one in the developers’ plans to create scarcity so they could raise prices.

First they took our street parking, then they took our off-street parking, and now they want our back private yards and views. Next they will want us to leave so they can tear down our homes to rebuild the little boxes we refer to as stack and pack housing. And they call us NIMBYS because we object to being displaced?

Red light tickets thrown out in San Mateo: City to reimburse 948 tickets issued over 45 days because cameras, signals in violation of new state laws

By Samantha Weigel : smdailyjournal – excerpt

Nearly 1,000 drivers who received a ticket for running a red light in San Mateo will be given a free pass after two of the city’s red light cameras and traffic signals were found to be in violation of new state laws.

The police department will toss out 948 tickets issued between Aug. 1 and Oct. 15 after a San Mateo County Superior Court judge sided with a Burlingame man who received a ticket and sparked an NBC Bay Area investigation.

Carrying a hefty $540 fine, the city will dismiss $511,920 worth of tickets after staff failed to increase the yellow light times per new regulations in the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

The city maintains three cameras, two along Hillsdale Boulevard and one at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Humboldt Street, which police say were set to provide a yellow light time of 3.4 seconds — .2 seconds above the state’s previous minimum but lower than the new 3.7 requirement.

An investigation sparked by Andre Clemente, who decided to fight against a ticket he received in January for rolling through the intersection at Hillsdale Boulevard and Saratoga Drive, ultimately resulted in the city admitting it failed to update its system.

“Even though we coordinate with public works to routinely update the system and calibrate them, somehow it was missed,” said police Sgt. Rick Decker. “Because we care about the integrity of the program, we made a decision to refund all those tickets.”

San Mateo police argue Clemente’s ticket was issued prior to the new law and their records indicate the cameras were in compliance at the time.

However, the department does acknowledge two of the city’s three lights were not updated nor was a traffic study conducted that would have allowed them to calibrate the system based on the average speed of 85 percent of drivers at the intersections.

Clemente, with the help of NBC’s Investigative team and Los Angeles resident Jay Beeber, who advocated for the new law, claim a video of the Burlingame man’s ticket shows the yellow lights were set to just 3.066 seconds, below the former 3.2-second minimum.

Ultimately, a judge dismissed Clemente’s ticket but didn’t provide a definitive answer as to why, according to the NBC report…

Once aware of the problem, the city immediately shut down enforcement for two days to audit and correct the light timing, reversed the 948 citations and put measures in place to ensure the problem wouldn’t be repeated, Norris said.

“We at the city of San Mateo don’t define ourselves by the problems we encounter,” Norris wrote in an email. “We define ourselves by what we do when encountering problems.”… (more)

Roadshow: Rising cost of high-speed rail (while potholes go unfilled) rankles many

By Gary Richards : mercurynews – excerpt

Our crumbling roadways are not a call for action to raise the gas tax. It’s a call for action to stop the $71 billion crazy train also known as high-speed rail. Our roads are deteriorating around us. There is little money to fix them, yet we can find $71 billion for a fool’s errand that even the high-speed rail authority says may relieve only 1 percent of traffic.

Now that sounds crazy to me!…

When state voters approved a bond measure in 2008 to cover the first $10 billion for high-speed rail, the estimate for the total cost of the project was $40 billion to build tracks from the Bay Area to Los Angeles... (more)


Geary bridge demolition meets resistance as bus speeding project moves forward

sfexaminer – excerpt

If The City were to tear down a pair of Geary Boulevard pedestrian bridges, it would be a loss for local children, seniors and the community.

That’s the opinion of a group of detractors led by Karen Kai, who sits on the advisory board to the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program Parent, Teacher and Community Council in Japantown.

The bridges allow walkers to safely cross Geary Boulevard’s eight lanes of traffic, but may be torn down under a plan to speed up Muni’s 38-Geary bus.

Kai volunteers at the nearby Rosa Parks Elementary school. The idea of children crossing Geary Boulevard without the bridge, she said, would be “scary.”

The Geary Bus Rapid Transit project, as it is called, is now moving forward with input from people in the community, like Kai, following a hotly contentious meeting Thursday at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority presented the project’s draft environmental impact report to about 200 community members. Some were business owners worried construction would create a dip in customers, others were residents worried for loss of parking… (more)