Bay Bridge will not open for evening's commute

SAN FRANCISCO

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Things have not been going on smoothly on the bridge.

There was hope that the work would have been completed by 10 pm Thursday evening and that the inspections were going to begin, but the work is taking longer. Once Caltrans completes their repairs, inspectors will come in to examine the work. If they give the OK, the California Highway Patrol will takeover and prepare to reopen the bridge.

Crews have installed four replacement rods, designed to reinforce a cracked eyebar. Each rod is 80 feet long and two inches in diameter. They will be seated in a steel saddle.

Unlike the original Labor Day fix, crews are taking additional measures to make sure the assembly does not fail again. The bridge has been shut down since Tuesday night after repairs to earlier repairs on Labor Day fell apart and damaged several vehicles. Caltrans said that even if this fix fails, these parts are not going to rain down on the drivers on the upper deck of the Bay Bridge.

"We are isolating the tie bars, so they cannot vibrate and create friction that causes this metal fatigue and we have self-centered the nuts, so that the rod will stay in the middle and we won't have that type of binding happen again," Ney said.

Caltrans also expanded on the fact that, during their regular inspections of their original Labor Day repair, they did notice something was wrong prior to Tuesday's failure.

"In one of the latter ones, after the first windstorm we did identify that the rods were moving and we were in the process of designing this system already," Ney said.

With the failure and the bridge closure, Caltrans is losing massive toll revenues, as drivers turn to other bridges and other modes of transportation.

"It's not good on the revenue side, yesterday, with the Bay Bridge out of action, we estimate on the toll revenue side a loss of about $335,000," MTC spokesperson John Goodwin said.

"Caltrans is doing everything that it can to return the bridge back to a safe state. If that is not good enough for them, then the other thing that we are doing is we are bringing in third party groups to look at these things that we are doing -- to ensure that the industry believes that what we are doing is right," Ney said.

New BART ridership record

BART is setting new ridership records as a result of the Bay Bridge closure.

437,000 people rode BART Wednesday -- shattering the old record of 405,000.

Ridership Thursday morning was 60 percent above normal. There were 50,000 extra riders by 10 a.m. and every hour since has been higher than Wednesday.

BART officials said they will continue running extra trains and more cars through Friday.

BART parking lots have been extremely full due to the increased number of riders. Riders are being strongly encouraged to walk, bike or get a ride to the BART stations. Unlike the Labor Day closure, BART will not offer overnight service. They say they need that time to do maintenance to make sure their fleet of trucks and trains is in good working order for the expanded service.

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