Road deck alignment is latest Bay Bridge problem

There are new concerns on the Bay Bridge and this time it has to do with the alignment of the decks.
February 25, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
From misalignments to misplaced water, there are new safety concerns about the Bay Bridge. Caltrans claims these problems are no big deal, but others disagree.

The problem is not all of the decks on the suspension are perfectly aligned. Plus, there are unexplained water leaks affecting 30 percent of the bolts.

"This is not an issue. It does not affect the structural stability of the bridge," said Bay Bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon.

Once again, Caltrans is on the defensive over an issue on the new Bay Bridge -- revelations that the road decks are misaligned in 10 places on the suspension portion of the new bridge.

"What we're talking about when we say misalignments is at most an eight-millimeter difference between the two decks. The public does not feel this or see this whatsoever," said Gordon.

"I see possible red flags," said Peter Yanev.

Yanev is an Orinda expert on earthquake engineering. He says the deck misalignment alone may not be a huge issue, but taken with Caltrans' series of missteps from broken rods to water leaks, he is concerned.

"I have seen enough over the last two years to say we should pull back and look at the whole thing again. The risks are significant. Maybe they're acceptable, maybe they are not," said Yanev.

Meantime, Caltrans now estimates 30 percent of the 2,600 bolts in the suspension portion of the bridge are leaking, but the department insists it's a problem they anticipated, even if they have yet to find the exact source.

"It's supposed to rain this week, so that might yield some additional information as to how it's getting into the barrier rail," said Gordon.

As for those giant broken bolts discovered last year, Caltrans says all those that failed have been retrofitted and tests on the remainder have so far revealed no additional problems.


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