Crews begin fix for broken bolts on new Bay Bridge span

OAKLAND, Calif.

This is just the first step in a multi-stage process, but it is a critical part of getting this bridge open. And Caltrans, given all the setbacks on this project, wanted us to show the public what's happening high above the water.

Viewed from the top of the deck, it looks like the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is nearly completed. But underneath the platform, work is just beginning to shore up the seismic system that was compromised by 32 bolts that broke back in March.

"Today, workers are pouring the first level of concrete for the overall steel saddle fix that's going to replace the broken bolts," Caltrans Bay Bridge spokesperson Andrew Gordon said.

Those broken bolts will stay in place because they are imbedded in concrete. This new concrete pour will constitute the foundation for four giant steel saddles that are being fabricated on Mare Island and in Alabama. They are expected to be delivered to the bridge in September.

The saddle system will reinforce the span's "sheer keys" which are designed to allow for and control the movement of the structure in a large earthquake.

The system is scheduled for completion on December 10. Caltrans hopes it will help restore the public's confidence in a structure that's had more than its share of problems and delays.

"We still want to show people that there is progress being made," Gordon said. "And that there's still a considerable amount of work being done to make sure that we can open this bridge safely." Again, this work is supposed to be done in mid-December. I asked Caltrans if that means the bridge could be open before the new year. They told me that at this point, they have to wait until those giant saddles are in place to set a new opening date.

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