Bay Bridge builder in black despite penalties

Bridge panel votes to keep rods, bolts in place on eastern span

By Jaxon Van Derbeken : sfgate – excerpt

A Bay Bridge oversight panel voted Friday to leave more than 2,000 potentially problematic rods and bolts in place on the new eastern span, rejecting a metallurgist’s attack on the $20 million testing program that vouched for their safety as unmerited.

The unanimous decision by the three-member Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee appears to lay to rest one of the biggest uncertainties hanging over the $6.4 billion project — whether hundreds of the steel fasteners will have to be replaced at toll-payers’ expense.

After 32 high-strength, galvanized rods broke in March 2013, Caltrans created a testing program to determine whether the remaining zinc-coated fasteners on the bridge were similarly at risk.

The rods and bolts anchor the bridge’s main cable to the road deck, secure it to the top of the tower and hold down structures designed to keep the bridge from swaying excessively in an earthquake… (more)

32 cracked so far. We know the design is not approved and now we get the message that the rest of the rods that are sitting in water corroding don’t need to be replaced? Who can you trust to build and maintain our bridges these days?

Can we get the names of the the three-members on the  Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee?

Which is more important? Keeping the decorative lights on the bridge or making the bridge safe?

RELATED:
Latest defect: Bay Bridge tower rods sitting in water

Peak-hour tolls have little effect on Bay Bridge congestion

Phillip Matier And Andrew Ross : sfgate – excerpt

Four years after its implementation, the $6 toll to curb rush-hour traffic on the Bay Bridge appears to be having little, if any, effect on easing the peak-hour backup on the morning commute.

In fact, if a recent weeklong snapshot of the morning rush hour taken by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is any indication, the number of peak-hour commuters has grown to 9,000 cars per hour, which is just about the limit of what the bridge can handle.

Between April 28 and May 2, 117,059 cars and trucks passed through the Bay Bridge toll gates during the morning peak hours – an 8,949 increase over the average weekly commute before “congestive pricing” was implemented in 2010.

Under the new pricing strategy, commuters are charged $2 more between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.

The off-hour price has stayed at $4 – a $2 savings.

The idea was to encourage drivers to cross at nonpeak hours.

The snapshot, however, shows that the increased traffic, brought on by the better economy, has remained at its old pattern – hitting 8,500 cars per hour by 6 a.m. and peaking between 6 and 8 a.m. at about 9,000 cars per hour.

Just as it did before congestive pricing.

Whatever the case, the rush-hour backups aren’t likely to go away anytime soon.

Nor is the congestive pricing – which was intended to provide relief.

“We still want to incentivize people to use the bridge on the off peak,” said MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler.

Only, in this case, the real incentive might be to just beat the inevitable backup… (more)

Bay Bridge Official: “We see no reason to delay the opening of the bridge before the shear key fix is completed”

by – excerpt

Top state transportation officials today approved a plan to open the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge on Sept. 3, saying that it’s important for the public’s safety that the new bridge be in operation as soon as possible.
The unanimous vote by the state Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee at a meeting at the MetroCenter in Oakland ends five months of uncertainty about the fate of the bridge after nearly one-third of the 96 bolts that secure earthquake shock absorbers known as shear keys to the deck of the bridge failed when they were tightened in March… (more)

2013 has not been a kind year to San Francisco. Nothing seems to be going well and of all the things that are bad, the Bay Bridge Bolts story may be the most unsettling. Nothing the officials can say will make us feel safe at this point. The running joke in may office is, “where would be rather be in a major quake? The new Bay Bridge, the old Bay Bridge, or the BART tunnel?” The answer is, “Neither.”