BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION: Giant bolts snap on new S.F.-Oakland Bay Bridge

Caltrans does not believe span is in danger, will hold meeting to discuss repair options

Bridges News San Francisco Chronicle March 27, 2013
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Problems continue to pop up on the new eastern portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.


It was recently discovered that 30 giant bolts—some as long as 17 ft—holding the $6.4 billion span together have snapped. Caltrans was looking into replacing all 288 bolts before the bridge opens on Labor Day, but will meet with its partner, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, to go over alternatives. Caltrans does not believe the bridge is in any danger.


Toll Bridge Program Manager Tony Anziano said engineers believe the latest hiccup has nothing to do with design or construction method, but the quality of steel used to make the bolts. Anziano said the presence of hydrogen in the metal could make them brittle.


Crews discovered the problem after they tightened the nuts on both ends of 96 bolts earlier this month. Some of the nuts popped lose, damaging the bolts. The bolts—or rods—were installed in 2008 and are very difficult to access. Caltrans does not know how long the repair will take or how expensive it will be to execute it.


“We have extracted samples so we can have a clear understanding of what went on,” Anziano told the San Francisco Chronicle.


“I’d be very surprised if you didn’t look at any large structural project that had fasteners and didn’t have an issue like that,” he said.

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