Experts: Open Bay Bridge On Time Despite Bad Bolts

Safety experts advise no deviation from timeline.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Will it be safe? Experts are pushing the new Bay Bridge to be open on Sept. 3.

    Not rain, not sleet nor hail -- nor bad bolts in the seismic-safety structures -- should keep the Bay Bridge from opening on time, experts say.

    Caltrans should open the new Bay Bridge as planned on Sept. 3, according to the Contra Costa Times, which quotes experts commissioned to review the span's safety insisting that there is "no reason" to keep traffic off of the bridge.

    There have been concerns about the bridge since three dozen anchor rods -- large, long pieces of metal intended to keep a seismic-safety structure together -- snapped when they were tightened. The bolts were found to be brittle thanks to a galvanizing process that left high levels of hydrogen in the steel -- a process that was banned on other Caltrans projects and a process used on many other bolts in the bridge, according to reports.

    Safety panelists Frieder Seible and John Fisher, who sit on the Toll Bridge Seismic Safety Peer Review panel, believe there is "every reason to believe" that the new bridge will be ready and open on time, the newspaper reported.

    The broken bolts, the experts noted, are only useful during an earthquake -- normal traffic does not require the bolts for a safe bridge. And the 280,000 cars which cross the bridge every day have no safer option, the experts said.

    Not everyone is convinced, however.

    Tom Devine, a professor of materials sciences at UC Berkeley, notes that the same people who declared the $6.4 billion bridge safe "are the same people who were part and parcel of the decisions that caused these problems" in the first place, the newspaper reported.

    The decision on whether to delay the bridge's opening or open it on time has been pushed to July 10.