Bay Bridge Leaks After Recent Storms

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The new Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge is experiencing some leaks after the recent storms hit the Bay Area. Cheryl Hurd reports. (Published Monday, Feb 10, 2014)

    The new Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge is experiencing some leaks after the recent storms hit the Bay Area.

    Caltrans officials say rainwater leaked into an area that was supposed to be water tight.

    The state agency responsible for bridge maintenance remained somewhat optimistic, despite the problem, saying it's "manageable." Although they haven't found all of the areas where water is getting into the steel structure under the road deck, Caltrans has engineers inspecting the site.

     “It looks like it’s something that’s coming from outside the barrier through the backside,” Caltrans Chief Deputy Director Rick Land told NBC Bay Area. “When it rains, we learn a few things, and it looks like maybe the wind is blowing water where we didn’t expect it.

    "No bolting system will ever prevent water coming in," Bill Casey, a resident engineer for the agency pointed out in The San Francisco Chronicle.

    Casey referred to the bridge's first five years of service as a "shakeout" period.

    "It’s one of those things that’s part of the learning process with this new bridge,” Land said.

    The new span's maintenance issues has some engineers worried.

    Metallurgical engineer, Lisa Thomas, told the newspaper the incoming water leaks will cause corrosion, and thus weaken the span. She called this a "huge blunder." And, as a result, the bridge won't last for the anticipated 150 years, she said.

    Another corrosion expert questioned Caltrans' approach, saying that water naturally breaks down steel, and continuous rain will keep corrosion active.

    Caltrans will continue to have engineers onsite to fix this problem.

    NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell interviews Caltrans' Rick Land, who discusses the leak issue on the Bay Bridge, in the video below.