Trolling for Bolts

Hurray, Jaxon is back on the Bay Bridge Bolt Botch beat! He’s got an article in today’s Chron reporting on the progress of Caltrans’ accelerated aging tests on the galvanized steel bolts. The tests will be a major factor in deciding whether to replace the bolts or leave them in place–at least those that can be replaced.

The tests are, it seems, going well, and if the results stand up, Caltrans will leave some 700 bolts in place.

Of course, not everyone agrees that Caltrans’ tests are appropriate. Jaxon quotes a pair of outside experts who believe that the results of short-term accelerated tests are only loosely related to real-world outcomes.

Meanwhile, preparations continue for the bridge’s grand opening at 5 am Tuesday the 3rd. There’s a full-page ad in the paper warning of the old bridge’s closure at 8 pm this Wednesday. Most amusingly, the majority of the ad is an artist’s rendering of the new bridge showing cars and trucks widely spaced as they cross. We’re not going to see traffic moving that smoothly until the inevitable zombie apocalypse depopulates the Bay Area.

Astoundingly, Jaxon missed the biggest part of the Bay Bridge story. Over the weekend, Matier and Ross alerted the public to the uncertain fate of the Bay Bridge Troll.

The Bay Bridge has a troll? Yup. When I heard that, I pictured something like the troll that lurks under Seattle’s Fremont Bridge. That troll is large enough to have caught an actual VW. The Bay Bridge’s troll is tiny by comparison, standing a mere 18 inches tall. It’s welded to the old bridge below the roadbed where it’s only visible from boats.

The bridge’s management team just released “For Whom the Troll Dwells“, their report on the troll and their recommendations for its fate. The team suggests that the current troll be honorably retired when the old bridge is torn down; they suggest that he and a section of the beam to which he is welded should be relocated to a “safe and shaded spot” near the bridge. They also suggest that the “Troll Bridge Program Oversight Committee” adopt a policy of “benign noninterference” to any attempts to install a new troll on the new bridge, provided that it goes into an appropriately covered and shaded area where the troll will be safe from the rays of the sun (long known to be hazardous to trolls).

Frankly, I find the committee’s proposal to be the single most sensible statement anybody associated with the new Bay Bridge has made, though it does miss one important point. The report notes that history recounts many occasions on which “trolls were hired to speed along special construction projects,” but stops short of recommending that Caltrans engage trollish assistance on future bridge projects. Had such a policy been in place, perhaps it wouldn’t have taken twelve years to build–and Caltrans might have listened to trollish recommendations to not use galvanized steel!

One thought on “Trolling for Bolts

  1. Pingback: Historic Significance? | Koi Scribblings

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