Bay Bridge reopens with new precautions

After six days, San Francisco's Bay Bridge reopened for the Monday morning commute. Extra steps have been taken to ensure the repairs don't fail again, officials said.

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

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    The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge remained closed this weekend after a failed repair job.
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Six days after it was closed because of a failed repair job, snarling traffic throughout the Bay Area and raising fresh safety concerns, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge reopened around 9 a.m. Monday.

The bridge, one of the busiest in the world, was shuttered when a 5,000 pound crossbar and two steel rods collapsed onto evening rush-hour traffic last Tuesday, damaging three cars and injuring one motorist.

Transportation officials blamed traffic vibration and high winds for undoing a Labor Day repair job to a cracked structural beam called an eyebar.

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This time, officials say, additional steps have been taken to ensure the new steel rods installed to mend the fractured beam don't fail again.

An anti-vibration system has been put in place to limit stresses and additional supports installed to prevent any rods – in case they snap off again – from falling on traffic.

The California Transportation Commission (Caltrans) has posted pictures of the new repair here.

The new system passed all tests with "flying colors," Caltrans said. At a Monday morning press conference, spokesman Bart Ney said that officials will continue monitoring the repair, looking for any stresses in that part of the Bay Bridge, which carries about 280,000 motorists daily.

Officials proceeded cautiously in undertaking repairs, he added. The repair was reportedly delayed when tests revealed that the newly-installed tie rods "were continuing to scrape together," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Associated Press (AP) also reported that the fix was held up because of delays in getting enough steel to complete the job.

But, according to Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, a civil engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, engineers rushed the Labor Day fix. He told AP that the repair was just a "Band-Aid" on a fracture that was symptomatic of larger problems with the Bay Bridge.

The six-day Bay Bridge closure has been its longest since part of it collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. A new, more earthquake-resistant bridge is currently under construction.

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