Structural integrity of new Bay Bridge tower comes under scrutiny

Investigation shows technician fabricated results on past projects

Bridges News The Sacramento Bee November 14, 2011
Printer-friendly version

An investigation by The Sacramento Bee is questioning the structural integrity of the self-anchored suspension tower of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

According to the Bee, Duane Wiles, a technician for Caltrans, has been disciplined for fabricating test results on the structural integrity of other projects, and never proved his testing gauge was operating properly while conducting checks on the landmark span that is scheduled to open in 2013. Wiles’ tests were supposed to confirm pile strength.

Experts are saying that the likelihood of the Bay Bridge tower failing is probably rather slim, but agree more testing should be done to confirm it. The Federal Highway Administration is looking into the issue.

Wiles and his supervisor have been placed on administrative leave, and Caltrans said it is conducting its own investigation, but refused to comment on results.

Caltrans Chief Engineer Robert Pieplow stressed the work done by Wiles was just one segment of the agency’s quality assurance program.

“As for the Bay Bridge, the [tower foundations] are safe and it would be highly misleading and irresponsible to suggest otherwise,” he said in a statement.

Overlay Init