Cal Engineers Troubled by Bay Bridge Failure

Berkeley professors weigh in on bridge failure

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Traffic on Tuesday night was beyond a nightmare.

    University of California, Berkeley engineering professor Jack Moehle called Caltrans claims of wind playing a role in the failure of cables on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge credible, but still surprising.

    "Wind can result in resonance of a cable or rod, which can amplify stresses," he told the SF Weekly.

    However, that it happened so shortly after the cables were installed.

    While steel can break over time from metal fatigue caused by ongoing stress, the cables were supposed to be designed to withstand such stress.

    The Bay Bridge retrofit is years late and billions over budget, with numerous problems from cracked supports to poor welding causing delay after delay.

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    When a cable snapped on the Bay Bridge Tuesday night, three drivers got the shock of their lives.

    Caltrans has said that the earliest the bridge will be back in service is tomorrow, but don't hold your breath.

    Moehle is not the only Cal professor to make a public comment on the bridge failure.

    Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, a civil engineering professor who has spent 20 years studying the Bay Bridge, called the initial crack a warning sign of potentially bigger safety issues with the bridge.
        
    "The repair they were doing was really a Band-Aid,"  Astaneh-Asl told the Associated Press.   He also publically criticized Caltrans at the time for rushing to reopen the bridge.

    He said the failure of the repair job demonstrates the need for a longer-term solution. The age and design of the bridge make it susceptible to collapse, especially if commercial tractor-trailers are allowed to continue using it, he said.

    "I think Caltrans is putting public relations ahead of public safety," he said.