Caltrans working to fix damaged Bay Bridge fender

January 25, 2013 7:02:49 PM PST
Caltrans gave us a close-up look at the repair work going on at the damaged Bay Bridge fender. An oil tanker grazed the fender on January 7th. It will be months before repair work is completed.

The damaged fender is on the last pier of the Bay Bridge, right before Yerba Buena Island. The contractor doing the repair work, California Engineering, is the same one that did the repairs on an adjacent fender after the Cosco Busan accident five years ago. Turns out that familiarity with the fender system is really coming in handy now.

Workers are removing twisted steel beams and shattered wood beams, what was the fender that protected the base of a Bay Bridge tower. An oil tanker grazed the fender in the fog on January 7, crushing a 16-by-16 foot section.

Still, Caltrans says the fender performed as it's supposed to, taking the brunt of the force and protecting the bridge pier structure.

The fender has an upper, creosote-coated wood section with a newer plastic section below in the water. They attach to a steel structure wrapped around the concrete skirt.

The contractor doing the repairs says they can no longer use wood. So Caltrans has to come up with a new design. But it will probably not be much different from what was damaged.

"These fenders were designed when the bridge was built, so you're talking about technology that's 80-years-old," said Robert Ikenberry with California Engineering. "It's done an excellent job of protecting the bridge. If we were gonna do something starting from scratch now, it'd probably be different. But this has done what it was intended to do, so we're going to put it back with least disruptions and expense as we can."

Caltrans says it's put aside $3 million of Bay Area Toll Authority money to pay for the repairs, hoping that it comes in less than that.


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