New tests show where Bay Bridge leaks water

There are some new test results that reveal more precisely where the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is leaking water.
March 5, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
There are some new test results that reveal more precisely where the new Bay Bridge is leaking water and the recent rainstorms have helped them figure that out. According to Caltrans, they are only confirming what engineers expected -- that the bridge is safe and there's no problem.

"Small amounts of water have been leaking at a number of locations..." said John Goodwin from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

There are leaks in the Bay Bridge's self-anchored suspension span and Caltrans and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, who is responsible for bridge oversight, confirm that. In fact, they consider the leaks a maintenance issue.

"In the most sensitive locations, those areas have been dehumidified so that water is being dealt with," said Goodwin.

Goodwin says tests ordered for the $6.4 billion bridge by the MTC have helped identify hundreds of leaks in the guardrails that face away from traffic. Caltrans is working on a way to fix it.

"Once we determine where water is coming in, we'll find a solution, but until it rains again, you really don't know if it's as completely sealed as it should be," said Andrew Gordon from CalTrans.

In February, during a Caltrans tour, our cameras found water pooling just below the deck of the bridge.

"I don't want to sound alarmist, but it's not an inconsequential issue," said Lisa Thomas. She is an engineer whose expertise is in the failure analysis of metal and says pooling water raises all kinds of red flags. "You get pitting beneath those nodules of rust you can't see, so you don't know how much metal you've actually lost."

Caltrans says they expected a certain amount of leakage -- after all, it's a bridge that was designed to be water-resistant not watertight.

"I disagree with that, because would you build a ship that way?" said Thomas.

"This is just a test that's part of this ongoing process to ultimately determine how water is getting in and what the solution should be," said Gordon.

The MTC says the full list of their findings will not be made public for at least a week.


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