Crews begin repairs to Bay Bridge tower fender

(KGO)
January 22, 2013 6:48:08 PM PST
The work to repair the Bay Bridge tower, hit by a giant tanker a few weeks ago, is going to be more complicated and more costly than first thought. On Tuesday, Caltrans pointed out the fact that repair work got underway quickly after the latest hit on the Bay Bridge, just a little more than two weeks after the wayward ship hit the delta tower. The fix has begun, but why will it cost so much?

On Jan. 7, it was considered a glancing blow with no structural damage to the Bay Bridge tower that is closest to Treasure Island. But instead of a hit in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Caltrans now estimates it's now going to cost millions to fix the fenders that were damaged by the wayward "Overseas Reymar."

The fenders are made out of steel and 100 percent recycled plastic.

"Right now, they're mostly marshaling all the equipment, which is mobilizing the equipment they need, bringing in everything they're going to need to get the work done. And once they do that, the first order of business will be starting to remove the damage fender systems," said Haus.

As it turns out, the much more serious damage caused by the 2007 Cosco Busan collision and oil spill disaster, is looking like a relative bargain.

The Cosco Busan repairs took six weeks -- three weeks ahead of schedule -- at a cost of $1.5 million. Caltrans estimates it could take up to four-and-a-half months to fix the fenders damaged by the Overseas Reymar at potentially twice the cost, up to $3 million.

"The Cosco Busan, it did tear off entire sections of the fender. This is damaged, but it's still in place, so we have to go in and actually remove that. So, at least to start with it will be a little more time-consuming," said Haus.

At least initially, the money for the latest fix will come from the Bay Area Toll Authority, which is administered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. It's unclear yet whether the MTC will go after the shipping company or the Bar Pilots Association to recoup the money.

"I think it's far too early to know what the answer is going to be one way or the other. What Caltrans is concerned about right now is getting the fenders repaired so the bridge is protected from another incident," said John Goodwin from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

As this work proceeds over the next few months, Caltrans says there will be no interruption in ship traffic that travels underneath the bridge.


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