Part of the Bay Area News Group

Fixing the fix; when will the Bay Bridge reopen?

By dcuff
Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 at 9:02 am in Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, Safety.

It was a deja vu experience for news reporters and motorists last night as the Bay Bridge was closed indefinitely to shore up a cracked bridge piece called an eyebar. It turns out that parts of the the Labor Day weekend fix – a giant metal splint - failed and crashed onto the bridge.

Caltrans said this morning it doesn’t know when the fix can be fixed, but officials expect it to be “days at the worst.”

In the mean time, the Bay Area’s busiest bridge remains empty as we await word on a reopening time and cope with a traffic mess around the region.

If this sounds familiar to you, it should. When the eyebar crack was discovered over Labor Day weekend during a planned closure, Caltrans they didn’t know how long it would take to assemble the metal brace and reopen the bridge. The crack was discovered on a Saturday and the bridge reopened shortly before 7 a.m. on Tuesday - a couple hours later than initially planned but nearly a day prior to the Wednesday morning prediction that Caltrans had last given before reopening.

Bottom line: the region waited anxiously with uncertain timing.    

“Hopefully, we’re not talking about anything longer than days,” Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney told a television reporter this morning.

The parts for the fix are already at the construction site, but high winds could slow repairs when crews have to do work more than 100 feet above the westbounhd bridge deck, he said. 

When the brace was custom designed and installed to divert stress from the cracked eyebar to other eyebars on the bridge, Caltrans noted that this was the first time such a brace had been used to repair a cracked bridge eyebar. But similiar bracking techniques had been used in other construction applications, officials said.

Motorists are asking: If the first fix failed and came crashing down on the bridge, how will the second fix work better?

Tune in for answers at contracostatimes.com.  

 

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