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) 


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

November 18, 2015 by

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)

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)

Objecting to Bike Lanes as ‘Paint Stripe Pollution’

By ERIC JAFFE : citylab – excerpt

Residents of Coronado, California, marched out a series of absurd anti-bike arguments that somehow won the day.

Bicycle advocates have learned how to respond to all sorts of opposition to bike lanes: they’re bad for business (actually, they’re great for it), they slow down traffic (actually, they can decrease travel times), they take up space for cars (actually, they make roads safer for all). But the type of arguments they heard during a public meeting in Coronado, California, earlier this month might have left them speechless.

At issue in the San Diego County resort city was a master plan to add 12 more miles of bike paths. Historically, Coronado has been a bike-friendly place; the League of American Bicyclists has recognized the city’s commitment to cyclists, and the bike commute share is a solid 4.5 percent—no match for the 70 percent of people who drive to work, but still way above the county and national averages. Adopting the measure should have been an oceanside breeze…


At the meeting, resident upon resident objected to the bike lanes on emotional grounds that had little to do with the safety evidence presented by experts, and everything to do with an inability to conceive of an urban mobility system that opened to the road to non-drivers. Claire Trageser of local KPBS reports a taste of the befuddling comments brought before the council:… (more)

“You are covering Coronado with paint stripe pollution,” said resident Gerry Lounsbury.
“The graffiti on the streets does not help our property values,” declared Aileen Oya.
The lanes “bring to mind a visual cacophony that if you look there long enough it will induce a dizzying type of vertigo,” said Carolyn Rogerson.
Gerry MacCartee asked if the community couldn’t think of a better option than “these black streets with these brilliant white lines everywhere because believe me, it takes away from your home, from your outlook on life.”
And Darby Monger crafted an analogy to describe the addition of bike lanes to her beloved city.
“It’s very similar to personally taking all three of my daughters to a tattoo parlor and having them completely body tattooed,” she said.

Against all that is holy about logic and reasoning, those arguments won the day. In the end, the council voted “to suspend all proposed bicycle striping and pavement markings and directed staff to place on a future agenda the Bicycle Master Plan as a high priority.” The Coronado mayor endorsed the decision, telling KPBS the public should get what it wants “unless what they’re asking for is illegal or unethical.”
My first thoughts exactly when I first saw the hideous bike graphics on the streets of Noe Valley. Not a high traffic area and not heavily traveled streets, except lately there are scores of tech buses creeping up and down the steep slopes. You hardly need to paint anything on those hills to caution people to slow down.



Red mopeds circle Civic Center in protest

Uber vs. the world: App-based car service declares victory in NYC, but faces global roadblocks

By  : foxnews – excerpt (video)

Uber, the app-based mode of transport favored by millennials worldwide, is battling politics, bad press and claims its disruption of the car-for-hire business presents a danger on the streets, but a partial victory in New York shows the company is more than willing to fight for its future.

Founded just six years ago in San Francisco and  now valued at more than $40 billion, Uber ended — or at least pumped the brakes on — a feud with the Big Apple, where lawmakers and Mayor Bill de Blasio were threatening to cap the number of drivers allowed on city streets. But in a surprise deal announced late Wednesday, the city agreed to table the limits until completion of a four-month study on whether Uber cars are in fact increasing traffic and harming the environment. The partial cave came after Uber put out an ad showing drivers from a broad racial and ethnic spectrum and pushed back aggressively at the political undertones of the plan.

“There is nothing progressive about protecting millionaire taxi donors who mistreat drivers and discriminate against riders and no amount of name calling by Mayor de Blasio will change that.” – Uber spokesman Matt McKenna(more)

Why Democrats are against the modern economy?

More proof that San Francisco politicians are out of sync with the national platform on Uber and other disruptive businesses. The Republicans, including Jeb Bush see these industries as the future and the Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton are questioning the social and economic impact of these tech behemoths. The huge wealth that is built of air, sometimes called the cloud, is probably not sustainable. Hence the rush to turn that air into property.

SFMTA vs. Lyft and Uber Drivers: Forget About Turning Left or Right onto Market Betwixt 3rd and 8th – Orwellian SMS

sfcitizen – excerpt

Let’s see if I can pay off on the headline here.

This is the Safer Market Street proposal, which used to be called, I believe, Better Market Street. I suppose the name got changed to support Vision Zero 2024? (That’s the promise of absolute transportation safety that will fail only after the terming our of our Interim Mayor and all the Members of the Board of Supervisors. Not a single promoter of Vision Zero actually believes we’ll get to zero transportation death, / injuries within nine years or ever at all…)

And here’s what I’m talking about not being able to make turns – all those red arrows show what you won’t be able to do anymore:

Captureggg copy

Will TNC drivers be banned? Yes – at least that’s the plan last I heard. Will taxi drivers be similarly banned? No, the SFMTA wants to promote taxis and the SFMTA hates, just hates, TNCs.

Note that when the SFMTA calls this proposal a proposal, that means it’s a done deal…(more)

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Problems with public meetings that may be addressed soon in a ballot initiative.

Report on the April 21st MTA Commission Meeting:

I attended the MTA Commission meeting on the 21st to object to the Consent calendar containing removal from public parking, all the car rental parking spots around the city. (On the attached link to the agenda is the list of the particular spots. )
No description of how many parking spots are being lost this way. No mitigation measures. No environmental impact consideration. Bargain pricing of a pubic asset. This is clearly an example of MTA following in the railroad tracks of Il Duce. Since when has our democracy in SF taken such a severe hit to the groin?

I also admonished the chairman for conducting a meeting without being able to be heard by the audience. When I first asked him to speak into the microphone, he looked up at me, and then went right back to mumbling whatever he said. After I denounced his contempt for the folks who came to participate, he went, again, right back to speaking without being heard. It is not a public meeting if the conversation of all the speakers cannot be heard.

Back to the car rental spots, this item will be heard on its own in some future meeting (not indicated at the time). Can you please get the word out to your mailing list that will be their chance to  argue against this public give-away to private profit companies.The more people the better, and the objective should be to take as much of the commission’s time as possible. Let them feel the pain of our outrage, since I’m sure they’ll approve the matter regardless of what the people have to say. After all, it is the MO of the MTA. “Muni: We don’t give a shit what YOU think”

– Ted