There is a simple solution to solving the myriad structural problems of the eastern span replacement of the Bay Bridge: Craigslist.
The facts are simple -- this particular bridge design is not as good as was assumed to resist earthquakes or the corrosiveness of a marine environment.
To resist earthquakes, the bridge must use members of superior strength, strength that is far and above that of more normal structures such as high-rise buildings. The strength of some of the critical members -- large 3-inch diameter threaded rods for example -- must be five to eight times stronger than a normal steel beam found in most steel buildings. Steel at such high strengths takes on new characteristics that make it susceptible to becoming brittle, a property most unsuitable for a bridge in this location.
The quandary is what to do about such brittle members, members that must be protected from the infection of the marine environment. Such infection only leads to poor structural performance.
The answer is quite simple: Sell the tower.
The tower is the bolt-together portion that can be sold to a country or place that needs a bridge of this stature, but is neither subjected to earthquakes nor a marine environment.
Sell the bridge tower portion at 40 percent off, with free shipping and financing. There are many places around this planet that could use this bridge, and that are not subject to earthquakes and are far from a marine environment.
The $3 billion from the sale will pay for a more simple replacement structure.
California residents won't see any additional costs since the sale of the tower portion will pay for a simpler and cheaper replacement.
This is all quite plausible -- since the tower with its roadbed portions were fabricated in China, shipped to the Bay Area and assembled on site. That bridge can be easily disassembled and shipped to a better location.
The Labor Day party should happen -- the Bay Area should get to celebrate the accomplishment of designing such a state-of-the-art bridge -- just don't drive on it. Need to keep that "new bridge smell" for the new buyer.
Putting the bridge for sale on Craigslist is no joke. The notoriety of such an act will get worldwide attention no doubt, something that we want in order to find the buyer for the bridge. Unlike most modern proposals, there is no need for a video of the new bridge because potential buyers can come and kick the tires of this state-of-the-art bridge.
The bridge replacement, one might ask? That's pretty easy.
One could do much worse than consider Frank Lloyd Wright's butterfly-wing bridge design, one that none other than T.Y. Lyn -- who collaborated with Wright's colleagues to previously promote this design -- deemed eminently buildable with today's technology. It would be seismically very safe.
The design skips gracefully and skillfully across the bay. Wright's design even incorporates room for passenger rail inside its structure -- something the current design leaves out altogether.
When proposed a few years ago, it was a question of Wright versus wrong. Now that the wrong bridge's structural integrity is in question, it's a matter of using the Wright design for the Bay Bridge eastern span replacement.
Beats the current stick-in-the-mud design.
Leal Charonnat is a resident of Oakland.