Should delay the opening of bridge
The Bay Bridge may be ready in terms of it can support the traffic, and it may even be safer than the bridge it is replacing. My objection is that the contractor will get a $20 million bonus if it opens on time. The earthquake was in 1989, so the bridge is usable 24 years later. This is on time?
It wouldn't surprise me one bit to find out that the contractor greased some palms to make sure the bridge opened on the Labor Day weekend.
This won't be known for a long time, but to prevent the bonus, I'd like to see them postpone it until the Thanksgiving weekend. This will save the taxpayer the $20 million and disrupt the commute less, because it is essentially a four-day weekend, not three, and there will be so many traveling on Wednesday, closing the bridge then would be less impact.
Might as well use it while we can
Sure, open the new section of the Bay Bridge. We might as well get some use from it while we can.
The old section of the Bay Bridge, which is being replaced, withstood a major earthquake with only 2 percent damage in 1989. And the failure mode was exactly as expected, with one section breaking loose and falling to the lower level. The rest of the bridge did not sustain any serious damage and thus proved to be very reliable.
We can't say this about the new span that is about to be opened. We do know that there are all kinds of components that were not tested properly and some that have already failed during normal installation.
Of course, the smart thing to do now is maintain both sections of the bridge using one for bikes and pedestrians and as a backup if and when needed. Of course, we all know that isn't going to happen.
Despite assurances, bridge span vulnerable
I don't support the decision to open the new span of the Bay Bridge on Sept. 3 without completing installation of the proposed steel saddle (bracket) replacing the failed anchor bolts -- a classic example of meeting the originally scheduled opening date under political pressures, while sacrificing public safety.
Having been a civil/structural engineer for more than 35 years, I respectfully disagree with Toll Bridge Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel Chairman Frieder Seible's July 10 comment that the new span with the broken anchor bolts is safer than the existing span in a seismic event.
Without any supporting calculations or proof, that's a vague assurance. During an earthquake, I'd rather be on the properly designed and constructed 76-year-old bridge than on the new bridge with questionably welded and some failed bolted connections.
Among functions of the anchor bolts in the original design is resisting lateral and uplift (vertical) forces caused by seismic motions. Without the saddle, the bridge is vulnerable to possible catastrophic failure because the remaining "good" anchor bolts wouldn't be structurally adequate to resist those forces during an earthquake.
Let's hope no major earthquakes occur between Sept. 3 and sometime in December when the installation of the saddle is complete.
Nai J. Leong
Why do we need costly new bridge span?
The date of opening the new span is at, or near, the bottom of my list of concerns. To quote former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when discussing Benghazi, "Why does it matter?"
What concerns me is: Why do we need a bridge that was more costly to build and will be more costly to maintain than a viaduct?
Make permanent repairs on it first
The new span has lots of "pushing-the-envelope" bridge technology. This carries inherent risk.
Caltrans bridge-expertise prescience has not proven sterling. A senior Caltrans consultant recently said temporary shims will make the "sail" section safe and in a "moderate" earthquake we can expect some damage -- but the bridge would not fall down. Not comforting words.
The old span withstood the 1989 quake, 1,000 times the intensity of "moderate." It opened 30 days after being damaged in the quake and has unfailingly operated the 24 years since.
The "sail" roadway weighs 33,000 tons and is supported entirely by cables. When traffic starts, 700,000 tons of daily traffic stress will be added. The roadway rests on the fulcrum design (like a kid's seesaw), which is intended to sway the road in a quake. The new shims make that fulcrum rigid, thereby defeating the seismic purpose.
This will reportedly continue for four months.
Gov. Jerry Brown: Stop the old span demolition. Tear-down starts next week.
The old bridge can be a backup. If the new span fails, our critical east-west lifeline simply disappears. The opening should await permanent repairs.
Not fixing new span before opening stupid
Opening the new span on Sept. 3 is really stupid. Despite reports, the bridge is unsafe.
The span's structural problems -- which started with poor quality bolts being installed without proper testing -- must be corrected before any further action is taken. The safety of hundreds of thousands of people who will use the span is at stake.
If one or more of the temporary fixes fail, it could cause a domino effect. Then what? A few cars will go into the bay; a few or a few hundred people will die; and the span will have to close down until the politicians can resolve how to raise more taxes to pay for the fix.
Caltrans and Jerry Brown think we California taxpayers have money trees in our yards; money is no problem, just raise taxes. The incompetence in estimating the cost of the new span is very clear. It climbed from less than $2 billion to more than $6.4 billion.
Our politicians are not interested in the welfare or safety of the general public. They want a grand drama which makes them look good and ready for the next election.
Fix the span before opening it.