Caltrans examining cause of leak on Bay Bridge's new span

After this weekend's rainstorm, water was found on the Bay Bridge in places it shouldn?t be and Caltrans pointed out the problems.
February 10, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The rain this weekend revealed a new problem on the new Bay Bridge, but Caltrans is claiming that this time it was a problem bridge engineer's expected, unlike the broken bolts. They're still trying to figure out just how big a deal this is or isn't.

Caltrans says they haven't fully assessed the leaks, but a top department official told ABC7 News this is really just a maintenance issue and is much less serious than those big bolts that broke last summer.

On the deck of the new Bay Bridge, it's OK if it gets wet. In fact, it has several features built in to push water off the side. However, deep inside, underneath the deck and into the cavernous infrastructure, it's supposed to be dry and that's where Caltrans has found water where there shouldn't be.

"What I see happening is water is coming in at the bolt location at the top on the deck and then dipping down through the threads," said Caltrans Chief Deputy Director Rick Land. He pointed out the latest problem on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge -- leaky bolts.

"We expected to have issues come up on this structure and this is not an atypical issue that we would find on a structure that's newly put into service with such unique features on item," said Land.

The bolts are about one inch in diameter, attached to steel plates, placed about every three feet underneath the platform of the bridge. The leaks have been found only along a 1/3 mile stretch that is the suspension portion of the bridge.

In some places, we did find some pooling and rust-colored signs of corrosion.

"We expected water to get in somehow," said Caltrans Bay Bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon.

The water could be coming in several places, around the lights standards, near these cable anchors or through the openings built into the barrier rail structure on each side of the deck.

"There's always a possibility that water will find its way. You protect the best you can. Now that water has gotten inside, we're looking for exactly where it's coming from so we can trace it back to the source and plug it up," said Gordon.

Caltrans does not know yet how much it will cost to identify and fix all the leaks.

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