Yep, Caltrans Closing Bay Bridge Again

By Lori Preuitt
|  Wednesday, Nov 11, 2009  |  Updated 3:53 PM PDT
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Caltrans Defends S-Curve Safety

Justin Sullivan

This vacant shot is soooo not the norm here in the Bay Area.

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Oh Snap! Caltrans Explain Bridge Failure

The Federal Highway Administration sent engineers Wednesday to investigate what caused repairs to fail on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and drop 5,000-pounds of metal into rush-hour traffic lanes.
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The hits just keep on coming from Caltrans.

Spokesman Bart Ney says plans are in the works to once again close the Bay Bridge to repair a cracked eyebar.   The closure could come this year, but it is more likely it will happen early next year.  Whenever it happens, the bridge will be off limits between one and  four days.

"We have a design crew working on another repair, one that will  take less maintenance than the one we have," he said.  There are many options on the drawing board, and Ney said, "We  want to narrow it down to the perfect thing."

This follows a nearly week long closure of the bridge earlier this month after a 5,000 pound piece of metal fell from the same eyebar section. Construction crews made repairs to the upper deck after two rods and a crossbar broke off during a Tuesday night rush hour.

Caltrans put a fix in place, but says it is temporary and requires daily maintenance.  They want to come up with a more permanent solution that will last the four years commuters will need to use the bridge while a new span  is built.

The pieces that fell late last month were parts of major repairs done over Labor Day after state inspectors discovered a crack in a key  structural beam. The rods that broke were holding a saddle-like cap that had been installed to strengthen the cracked eyebar.

Officials with the California Department of Transportation have attributed the incident to vibrations and grinding on a metal tie rod, causing it to snap. They say they are made enhancements to address the issue, but are not satisfied with the repair.

The failure resurrected fears about the safety of a span that some 280,000 drivers use each work day.

The safety concerns on the current structure have also stirred new anger over the constant delays and soaring costs of the still-unfinished new eastern span.  The project has become the largest public works effort in California history.

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