Bay Bridge plagued by busted bolts

Just when we thought it was all going smoothly, the Bay Bridge had to go and bust its bolts.

Specifically, around 30 giant bolts snapped on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, causing Caltrans to question the integrity of the 288 giant bolts that help hold the bridge together.

While 32 bolts doesn’t sound like much in the entire scheme of the $6.4 billion bridge, it’s important to note these bolts are a massive 9 to 17 feet in length. The bolts were used to connect four massive steel devices sandwiched between the easternmost pier of the new suspension span and the roadway above it.

MTC spokesman John Goodwin told KQED that the bolts had failed to tighten properly due to excessive hydrogen in the steel and have continued to pop out of place after being tightened.

Caltrans, naturally, was not too excited to announce they would need to now replace all 288 bolts in the bay bridge before opening it to the public. Despite this seemingly large hiccup, the department insists they are still on schedule for their September completion date.

Toll Bridge Program Manager Tony Anziano told SFGate:

“We have extracted samples so we can have a clear understanding of what went on. We don’t have a cost, but we will have a solution.”

However, Goodwin estimated replacing the bolts could cost anywhere from $1 million to $5 million on top of the already high price tag for the new span.

The bridge has already faced its fair share of delays, most notably when crews found microscopic cracks in the steel deck sections, delayed work on the span for months.

I guess we can at least be thankful that this problem was identified before they opened the bridge to the public. Now just cross your fingers that the next bolts work.