BRIDGE REPAIR: Shimming solution could have new Bay Bridge opening back on track

Some officials question the effectiveness of fix, but MTC is considering it

Bridges News Sacramento Bee July 11, 2013
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Two days after authorities said the opening of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge would be delayed by more than three months, a group of consultants shimmied in with a solution.


A new proposed temporary retrofit for the broken bolt problem on the span calls for crews to shim massive seismic bearings with steel plates, which would take little time to execute and put the opening of the bridge back to Labor Day. On July 8, officials made a “firm” decision to insert a steel saddle retrofit, which would delay the debut until early December.


The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which is the governing body of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, seemed cautiously optimistic about the last-minute fix.


“It never hurts to have a plan B,” said MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger. “I do believe this idea merits further vetting.”


Local politicians, however, preferred plan A, which called for the installation of the saddle. Sen. Mark DeSaulner, who leads the Transportation and Housing Committee, called the shimming idea a reflection of the span’s management, which has been a problem from the beginning.


Sen. Anthony Cannella, a civil engineer and member of the T&H Committee, echoed DeSaulner’s uneasiness.


“To change course this dramatically, I think the public is going to be skeptical and concerned,” he told the Sacramento Bee. “I’m skeptical and concerned.”

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