The China-Built Bay Bridge Has Another Problem

By Taylor Garland
Oct 08 2015 |
Eastern span of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. The old and the new bridge, as seen from Yerba Buena Island at night. | Photo via Flickr User Frank Schulenburg

Corrosion threatens the integrity of the Bay Bridge’s main cable.

It looks like there is yet another problem with the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

The bridge’s lead designer has warned Caltrans officials that the cable holding up the eastern span of the new bridge is vulnerable to corrosion due to rainwater leaking into its anchorages.

Corrosion has long been an issue for the bridge which opened in 2013. Earlier this year, officials confirmed a San Francisco Chronicle report that one of the anchor rods had fractured. The culprit: corrosion.

“Bridge officials have been preoccupied with the possibility that rods at the base of the span’s tower could be corroded by water,” the Chronicle reported Monday. But “lead designer Marwan Nader said the bigger concern is the cable — specifically, the twin steel boxes where the cable is anchored inside the span’s deck.”

Infographic courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

Problems began when then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to outsource much of the eastern span’s fabrication to a company in China that had zero experience actually building bridges.

And while Schwarzenegger picked that company to save money, the choice led to severe cost overruns and delays, along with a host of safety issues that the Sacramento Bee has done an award-worthy job of chronicling.

This is just the latest issue with the Bay Bridge. Corrosion will continue to be an issue for the bridge if officials don’t implement a plan to combat it. A move that will likely cost the California tax-payers millions of dollars more.

Previous reporting by Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch contributed to this post.