SAN FRANCISCO --Everyone hoping to drive across the new span of the Bay Bridge just after Labor Day got some bad news. The broken-bolt problem will not be fixed in time.
The delayed opening of the bridge will be pushed back at least three months, in short it's starting to look a lot like Christmas.The decision comes after the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee in Sacramento determined it will take at least until December 10 to retrofit the 32 broken bolts that were discovered in March inside the new span's east pier. "We are sorry. We are very sorry for this delay, but we have a retrofit that we need to get built," MTC spokesperson Steve Heminger said. If there's any good news in the oversight committee's findings, it's that the remaining 2,200 bolts at various locations on the bridge seem to be testing and holding up fine. If any of them need replacing or retrofitting, that can happen after the bridge opens to traffic. "There are other bolts that can be replaced after the bridge opens, or the tension can be reduced, or they can do some dehumidifying on them and they'll be fine," Caltrans Bay Bridge spokesperson Andrew Gordon said. The committee's report released by the oversight committee details hydrogen embrittlement as the culprit in the bolts that broke and it calls Caltrans and two of its major contractors on the project the responsible parties for the failure. "Once this is done and we're able to transfer that traffic, I think we really need to take a hard look at the process. Why did these things go wrong, because we've got a lot of other infrastructure built in this state and we can't make the same mistakes twice," St. Sen. Anthony Canella, R-Merced, said. Caltrans says they do need a four-day weekend to complete the switchover from the old bridge to the new one. That means the opening may not happen until early next year.