Bay Bridge crews press ahead with repairs

September 6, 2009 7:23:01 PM PDT
Caltrans is warning everybody to prepare for the Bay Bridge to be closed one day longer than expected. The reason is a 2-inch thick crack in a steel link that holds up part of the eastern span.

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On Sunday afternoon, parts to help fix the span were flown in from Arizona and driven to the bridge on the back of a flatbed truck. The bridge is still scheduled to re-open Tuesday morning at 5:00, but it all depends on how the repair work goes.

Sunday was a bittersweet day for Caltrans workers. Officials had hoped to be able to say the project was moving ahead of schedule and that the bridge would likely open early. Now, they are not sure when it will reopen.

Workers scaled the bridge to begin repairs on the crack, but the real work could not begin until the materials arrived.

"The first question is when will we get all the materials here? And, the second question is going to be how fast this crew can do the repair. Right now, we can't say for sure this is going to be done by Tuesday morning," Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney explained.

A steel saddle that will be welded into place to alleviate some of the stress on the damaged eyebar finally arrived Sunday afternoon. It was built overnight in Arizona, flown to Oakland, then rushed with a CHP escort to the construction site. With a deadline to re-open the bridge by 5 a.m. Tuesday and a ten-person work crew standing by, no second went to waste.

"The challenge is that we needed to get materials here immediately, in the middle of a weekend, in the middle of Labor Day weekend," Ney said.

Photos from Caltrans show that the crack's location is 120 feet in the air on the eastern span. It was discovered Saturday afternoon during a routine safety inspection. Engineers do not know how long it has been there. What they do know is that it was not there during the last safety inspection that took place when the bridge was closed two years ago.

They say the crack would have been enough to shut the bridge down on its own.

The discovery and potential delay has overshadowed the good news and the purpose of the four-day bridge closure. The old section of the bridge was successfully rolled out and a new portion rolled into place. Workers made more progress on completing that job Sunday.

"And, then we're down to the real grunt work of getting all the guard rail in, all of the utilities put in, the striping done, all the things we need to do to make this a freeway again," Ney said.

Officials do not know the cause of the crack but they say it has nothing to do with the work that has been done on the bridge this weekend. The crack is on a completely separate area of the bridge.

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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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