Infrastructure & Environment

Troubled Bay Bridge Span Will Open After All

A state-sanctioned oversight panel announced that officials would press ahead with plans to open the troubled eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to traffic around Labor Day weekend.
August 16, 2013

A state-sanctioned oversight panel announced that officials would press ahead with plans to open the troubled eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to traffic around Labor Day weekend.

The single-tower, self-anchored suspension bridge, in the planning since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the original eastern stretch, has been fraught with problems.

At $6.3 billion, it is far over budget. And in March, officials announced that about one-third of the 96 massive bolts used to attach a pair of seismic safety devices to the bridge had broken.

Last month, the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee opted to delay the opening until December so that a retrofit -- involving the use of a steel saddle -- could be put in place.

But on Thursday the panel members unanimously approved a temporary fix expected to get the span ready for traffic within weeks. After hearing from independent experts, including the California division chief of the Federal Highway Administration, they determined that motorists would be safer driving on the new span with a temporary fix in the event of a major earthquake than they would be on the old bridge.

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