Yet Another “One-Off” Problem for the China-Built Bay Bridge

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
May 21 2015 |

A steel rod designed to secure the bridge in an earthquake has fractured.

Well, color us surprised!

Back in April, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that one of the anchor rods in the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge may have snapped. And on Wednesday, state officials confirmed that one of the steel rods that anchor the eastern span’s tower had indeed fractured.

A Caltrans official said that the rod’s failure might be a “one-off,” and insisted that “there was no evidence that the more than 400 other steel rods at the base of the tower were damaged." But several experts told the Chronicle that “photos of the broken rod indicate the presence of corrosion that could also infect hundreds of 25-foot-long rods that sat in water after they were tensioned in 2010.”

This “one-off” problem is just one in a series of issues for the Bay Bridge, which has been plagued with problems from the start.

Opened in 2013, the eastern span of the bridge was designed to replace a bridge that partially collapsed during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake — the famous one that interrupted the World Series. 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 the governator 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.

As always, we’ll keep you updated on the woes of the Bay Bridge as they move forward. Sadly, we hardly think this latest “one-off” issue will be the bridge’s last.