The new Bay Bridge should not wait for all the broken bolts to be seismically repaired before it is opened to traffic, the Contra Costa Times reported.
Two of the three bridge and seismic engineering experts say the overall seismic safety of the bridge is more than enough to allow the opening of the bridge to traffic as scheduled on Sept. 3.
“There is no reason to keep traffic off the new bridge until after every last bolt has been 100% absolutely checked,” Frieder Seible, chairman of the Toll Bridge Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel, told the Contra Costa Times. The remaining items to be done are “minuscule compared to the overall seismic safety of the new bridge.”
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) created the Toll Bridge Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel in 1997 to review the seismic retrofit and replacement of the state’s bridges.
Seible, who recently retired as dean of the UC San Diego school of engineering, was joined in his evaluation by fellow Peer Review Panel member John Fisher.
Seible and Fisher said the bridge would need the broken bolts only during an earthquake, and even without seismic repairs, the new span is twice as safe under earthquake conditions as the 77-year-old bridge that is the alternative route to carry the 280,000 vehicles that will cross the bridge daily.