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)

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.



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)

Continue reading

SF supervisors approve Muni security contract, after no ethics violations found

By sfexaminer – excerpt

No ethics violations found, but ethical concerns remain

A $38 million security contract to guard Muni rail yards was approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, amid accusations of ethical lapses in the contract process.

“It doesn’t quite pass the smell test,” Supervisor Malia Cohen said of the contract at the board meeting.

The controversy swirled around the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s lead contract negotiator and director of security, Chris Grabarkiewctz. A prior employee of Cypress Security, he was given awards lauding his ability to generate great amounts of profit from his negotiating contracts with the SFMTA.

Now he serves the reverse role, negotiating contracts for the SFMTA with Cypress Security against its sole competing bidder, Andrews International…

Reiskin told supervisors they could reform ethics laws, or the SFMTA may make its own rules to protect against alleged conflicts of interest. “To the extent that this [contract] procurement has raised issues, we may consider going above and beyond the law,” Reiskin told the board…  (more)

Reiskin told supervisors they could reform ethics laws? Suggested going above and beyond the law? Since when does Reiskin tell the supervisors what they can do? Someone needs to remind him that he works for the elected city officials, not the other way around. A reduction in his salary might help to remind him where he stands.

Safety Course Not Required For Uber, Lyft, Others

hoodline – excerpt

In the wake of an Uber driver arrested after allegedly hitting and injuring a cyclist in Fisherman’s Wharf on Sunday, more questions are being raised about driver safety requirements.

Specifically, taxis are regulated by SFMTA and are required to take 28 hours of classes through one of four approved private driving schools, and another day of training through the SFMTA. An hour of the SFMTA training includes instruction on sharing the road with bicyclists and pedestrians, is taught by a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. At least two hours of testing is required. And as part of the city’s Vision Zero plan, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024, SFMTA is instituting a large vehicle urban driving safety program for all large vehicle drivers who work for the city.

All told, as Central City Extra covered in their latest issue (PDF), there are 71 pages of dense regulations for cab drivers to follow.

Not so for drivers working for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar or limo companies, which are not regulated by the SFMTA – they only have 28 simple regulations to follow.

And the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, among others, is concerned about this gap in safety mandates. “We need to ensure everyone knows how to share the road safely,” said Tyler Frisbee, policy director at the organization. Many of the drivers, she said, aren’t used to driving in a city as busy as San Francisco.

“Whether cab, Uber, Lyft—they’re pulling over to the side frequently, they’re loading and unloading, they’re driving through crowded areas” such as Market Street, SoMa and the FiDi, Frisbee said. “The reason SFMTA hires us is they want to protect peoples’ lives,” she added. “There’s no similar training for Uber. Their drivers take a couple of very short safety classes that are taught online.”… (More)

Private bus startup Leap hit with complaint under US disabilities law

by : arstechinca – excerpt

“We’re sorry to anyone we’ve offended and we hope to do a better job next time.”

Chris Pangilinan, a former San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency engineer who uses a wheelchair, has alleged that new private bus startup Leap is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As such, Pangilinan recently filed a formal complaint with the Department of Justice.

Leap recently launched its service, offering interested commuters a luxury transit option that includes things like Wi-Fi, more personal space, and refreshments. Leap charges riders $6 per fare (more than double what local buses charge), and riders use the company’s smartphone app to pay for fare or refreshments as well as to monitor when the buses are approaching.

Pangilinan, who moved away from San Francisco before Leap launched its service, said he found the company’s lack of accessibility “pretty shocking.” His complaint alleges that Leap “removed features that made the buses previously wheelchair accessible, such as the front door ramp, and wheelchair securement areas within the vehicle.”

If the Department of Justice (DOJ) finds that Leap is in violation, it could bring fines or a civil lawsuit. The DOJ did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.

“I don’t want money or anything, what I want is to make sure that the spirit and the letter of the ADA [is considered] in the way that we build or change our transportation in the country,” Pangilinan told Ars. “If services like Leap are going to become more popular, then it’s harder to fight if we don’t change it.”… (more)



MonkeyParking Is Back and Ready to Disrupt Your Driveway

By Joe Eskenazi : modernluxury – excerpt

Once-reviled parking app to give legality a shot.

Last summer, an app called MonkeyParking became a target of much Internet ire after attempting to introduce its service—which allowed users to auction off public, city-owned parking spots to the highest bidder—in parking-deficient San Francisco. The business model, the company claimed, was defensible as a First Amendment matter. This argument did not sway the vast, seething swarms on social media, nor did it assuage City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who quashed MonkeyParking with great vengeance and furious anger. “We knew we were touching a nerve,” MonkeyParking CEO Paolo Dobrowolny admits now. But he says he didn’t expect San Franciscans and the City Attorney “to be so angry.”

Well, now he knows. And now the monkey is back…

Well, here’s some advice on taxes that other sharing-economy companies have (eventually) heeded: Pay them… (more)

Bicyclist, 26, seriously injured after crashing into parked car on Gough Street in San Francisco, California

accidentdatacenter – excerpt

A 26-year-old man was bicycling on Gough Street when a vehicle in front of him stopped and switched on her turn signal to turn into a parking space. He crashed into the back of the vehicle, suffering life-threatening injuries which included head trauma, internal bleeding, fractured ribs, and a punctured lung. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment of his injuries… (more)

Some people feel that all cyclists should wear helmets. State Senate Bill 192, Bicycle Helmet and Reflectors, sponsored by Senator Carol Liu, would extend the helmet requirement to adults and also require all riders to wear reflective clothing when cycling at night. The bill was referred to the Transportation and Housing Committee. Contact for details.

An extensive  list of state bills related to Transportation and Housing, and CEQA issues can be found here:
Let the state reps know how you feel. Contacts are here:

Accident report site:

Cyclist suffers life-threatening injuries in S.F. crash