Caltrans prepares for future bridge closure

November 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Six days just wasn't enough time to fix the Bay Bridge and Caltrans is making plans to shut it down again. More repairs are needed to the repairs on that cracked eyebar.

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During the second go-around of repairs, Caltrans was already saying they would need to close the bridge down again to do some final repairs, probably in four to five months. Now, it looks like it is going to be much sooner than that, but it will still be another month from now before Caltrans can give a more firm date.

Caltrans is preparing for another closure to improve their repair on the cracked eyebar on the eastern span. The question is, when?

"We are not at this point announcing a bridge closure time frame. What we're doing right now is design, looking at different options that we have for a new eyebar repair and they're numerous, so they're going through type selection process," says Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney.

Ney says the current repair requires intensive monitoring and daily lane closures to make sure it's holding up. The goal is to put in place a repair that will be reliable and easier to manage for the next few years, while the new bridge is finished. The first step is deciding on a repair method.

"I cannot rule out at this point that we wouldn't have a method that we could put in place before the end of the year, but it's highly unlikely that the bridge will close before the end of the year and more likely it will happen after the first of the year," says Ney.

The closure could be between one and four days.

"If it needs to be done correctly and safely, that's what we need to do," says Marcus Mosley from Emeryville.

"It's not really surprising. It's better that they do it and do it right as opposed to just rush it," says commuter Antonio Botello.

That cracked eyebar was an unwelcome surprise when discovered during the Labor Day weekend bridge closure. It was repaired in time for the Tuesday morning commute, but that repair fell apart and came crashing down the last week of October.

Five thousand pounds of steel and snapped metal rods fell on vehicles during the evening rush hour; the bridge was closed that night and stayed closed for nearly six days while the repair, was repaired.

Caltrans says once a design is selected, a contractor is on board, and materials are ordered, its traffic operations department will look at possible dates and try to select a schedule that has the least impact on bridge traffic.

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