Bay Bridge Bolt Botch VI

Just to finish off the week with something that’s not butter-related, here’s the latest on the Bay Bridge Bolt Botch.

On Tuesday, the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee, which is responsible for overseeing seismic improvements to Bay Area toll bridges – how’s that for a specific mandate? – announced that they are conducting an “aggressive investigation” of the BBBB, that their eventual report will be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration for an “arm’s-length review”, that they have ordered “extra tests” on the unbroken bolts, and that the bridge “will be safe”. (All quotes are from an “Open Forum” piece in the SF Chronicle written by the committee’s executive director. A subscription is required to read the original piece, unfortunately.) All I can say is that I’m glad to know that the oversight committee is on the job and fulfilling their mandate. Wait, what? You mean “oversight” and “overlook” are not synonyms?

Thursday, the Chron reported that Caltrans still believes there is a chance that repairs can be completed in time for the bridge to open after Labor Day, as planned. The fix is apparently to construct a steel “saddle” on top of the seismic stability structures and anchored to them with cables embedded in concrete. The cost? A mere $10,000,000 (per an editorial in today’s paper). The repairability of the repair? Not addressed anywhere that I’ve seen so far, but judging by the pictures, it’s no more fixable than the original bolts, and possibly less so. If they’ve got to work around the original design’s flaws, why don’t they at least try to make the workaround more repairable than the original?

Nobody, by the way, is committing to an estimate of the time it’ll take to actually do the testing of the bolts that haven’t broken. That’s going the be the real key in whether the bridge opens on time or not. Fun, fun!

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