Inspectors find cracked beam on San Mateo Bridge

October 14, 2010 1:17:29 AM PDT
A Bay Area bridge where traffic moved along smoothly Wednesday night will likely be a mess for the morning commute.

At the San Mateo Bridge crews found a crack that had to be repaired immediately. Caltrans crews had to close the right lane in the westbound direction. That could cause big problems for the morning commute, so people are advised to leave early and take alternate routes.

A piece of steel that's supposed to help hold the bridge together in an earthquake has a crack of its own.

"Even though there was no immediate danger to the public, there was no imminent danger of any kind of catastrophic failure, but when you do find a crack in an important system like this then you do have to take immediate action," said Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus.

Officials have shut down a section of the far right, westbound lane of the San Mateo Bridge so they can fix the crack. The lane will be closed during Thursday morning's commute.

"Tomorrow morning is going to be rough. If you normally use that bridge, we're expecting a lot more congestion so you definitely want to use an alternate route, either the Dumbarton or the Bay Bridge or maybe just swinging down the peninsula, but so do expect delays," said Haus.

The crack is ten inches long and is underneath the road. Engineers plan to put steel plates above and below it. They found it during a safety inspection they conduct twice a year.

"What we learned today is that the inspection worked. They're out there to see if there are any problems so the inspection process worked perfectly," said Haus.

The beam has been there since 2001. They don't know why it cracked, but they're hoping to get the repairs finished by the Thursday evening commute and hope to have the lane reopened. For now, that is the goal, but they don't know if they will be able to reach it.


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