Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bay Bridge Troubles Halt Fundraising For Opening Gala

Further delays in decision making about the date for opening of the new Oakland to San Francisco Bay Bridge have put a halt to fundraising efforts for the planned Labor Day opening festivities on the span. Final decisions regarding the scheduled opening have brought fundraising efforts for the ceremonial opening to a stop until Caltrans decides later this month whether or not the project will be safe for traffic by the Labor Day deadline. Failed seismic support bolts, cracked welds, and problems with structural concrete testing on the bridge's foundation may result in the need for up to $10 million in repairs to the already over budget $6.4 billion construction project.

Despite the postponement of the decision regarding the opening date, it seems unlikely repairs could be completed in time for a Labor Day opening to auto and truck traffic. Bridge officials have already submitted a written request for the Federal highway Administration to initiate an independent engineering review of the proposed repairs. The project is already years behind schedule and billions over budget. Bridge engineers hawe just begun saltwater corrosion testing of a sample of the seismic bolts, and the results of those test are expected to be released at a special May 29 meeting of the California Transportation Commission, when the final determination about the opening date is also supposed to be released. California's Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee has already punted the final decision about when the span will open to traffic to Governor Jerry Brown.

Toll Bridge Program Manager Tony Anziano acknowledges that "We are pretty confident that we don't have an immediate failure issue with these bolts, but we want to have a strong level of confidence over the long term." Nevertheless, Anziano doesn't want to have the fate of the opening gala and attendant fundraising efforts in his own hands.

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