Cracked beam may delay bridge opening

September 6, 2009 12:41:10 AM PDT
Caltrans has announced a huge blow in its effort to reopen the Bay Bridge on time. Inspectors have discovered what they say is a significant crack in a support beam. They say the bridge cannot reopen until it is repaired.

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After completing the monumental challenge of moving aside the old span and precisely fitting the new temporary span into place Saturday, Caltrans announced a major potential setback.

"While we were inspecting the east span of the Bay Bridge, a crack was discovered in one of the I-bars on the eastern side up high," said Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney.

In a completely separate area of the bridge, inspectors found a crack in one of the I-bars of the bridge's support structure, about 100 feet above the pavement.

"It was determined that this is a significant crack and it needs to be dealt with immediately, and we are dealing with it immediately," said Ney. "The crack is significant enough to have closed the bridge on its own."

LIVE WEB CAM: Bay Bridge construction

Caltrans says it is now mobilizing contractors and gathering materials to make the emergency repairs.

"I want to assure everyone that this repair is going to be made and that we are going to return the Bay Bridge to public service safer than the way it was when we took it out," said Ney.

Caltrans engineers say the crack has apparently been there for some time. They would not speculate on the potential danger, but emphasized it has to be fixed immediately.

"We have to make this repair before we open the bridge," said Ney. "The work to repair this crack may take us beyond Tuesday. In fact, if we complete by Tuesday, it will be a monumental effort."

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MORE:

Watch our live web cam of the Bay Bridge Labor Day weekend construction.

Watch a 1930s film about the building of the original Bay Bridge.

For more information about the Bay Bridge closure during the Labor Day weekend, check out our resources page.

For transit options, visit www.511.org/baybridge

For the latest on the Bay Bridge construction project, visit baybridgeinfo.org

Follow updates on the bridge closure on Twitter at twitter.com/BayBridgeInfo

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