A brief update on the ever-entertaining Bay Bridge Bolt Botch.
News has been light since my last report on 4/23.
Since then, the SF Chron has reported – twice – that all of the potentially problematic parts are being tested, not just the bolts.
They’ve also reported that fund-raising for the planned grand opening celebration have been put on hold. Presumably they’ll resume when we know if the bridge will actually open.
“If”? OK, that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration. I should probably say “when the bridge will actually open”. I’m sure it will, sooner or later. Labor Day is looking increasingly doubtful, however.
Today’s paper notes that the worrisome parts have grown from the original 96 bolts to more than 2,300. It’s not just the original set that connect the roadbed to the pillars via the seismic “shear keys”, it now also includes the bolts that attach the main cables to the towers and the roadbed.
All of this stems from what now appears to be a badly managed requirement change. At the time the bridge was designed, high-strength, galvanized bolts like this were considered acceptable. In mid-2001, concerns were raised about the possibility of the bolts cracking if they were galvanized, and in 2004, Caltrans updated its bridge design specifications to ban galvanized bolts and rods. But as best as can be determined from the information released so far, no effort was made to update the requirements for the hardware going into the Bay Bridge.
Again, this is elementary QA – it’s not even QA, really, it’s just common sense: if the requirements behind a project change, you review the project to determine the impact. You don’t just go ahead and, as a Caltrans spokesman told the Chronicle, “We bought [the rods] because that’s what was called for in the plan.”
What of our friend Gary Pursell, then “resident engineer” and now “division chief”? No idea. He hasn’t been mentioned in any of the recent stories. Apparently he’s against beating dogs. Good to know.
Gary, one bit of advice: choose a different photo for your Facebook and LinkedIn pages – one that doesn’t have the Bay Bridge in the background.