Little confidence in Bay Bridge's safety

In recent years, during construction of the new span of the Bay Bridge, there have been numerous technical issues reported in the media.

Some of those issues include lower than specified strength of concrete in the bridge foundation, possible defective welds in the steel tower and corrosion of the suspension cables. It's not known whether each of the issues was satisfactorily resolved.

The most embarrassing recent issue is the failure of 32 anchor bolts atop a bridge pier. The proposed steel saddle (bracket) that replaces the broken bolts will not be nearly as effective -- to resist forces due to normal traffic, wind and seismic loads -- as the anchor bolts called for in the original design.

Because of the obvious mismanagement of the project, who knows what else is defective but undetected? We all agree the new span is beautiful, which is irrelevant to the question of safety. It is dangerous unless each integral part of the bridge, including all welded and bolted connections, is structurally sound.

However, even if the fixes are made, I will not trust the safety of the bridge 100 percent.

Nai J. Leong

Concord

Leong is an engineer with more than 35 years' experience.

Confidence in 'eventual' safety

I do have confidence in the eventual safety of the new span. But the operative word is "eventual."

However, a related but more interesting question is: How does the Bay Bridge's new span stack up against the original construction of the Golden Gate -- a far more challenging and difficult engineering-construction project?

I just finished reading, "Building the Golden Gate Bridge" -- courage, ingenuity, vision. It's a fascinating picture story of the bridge's construction. Interestingly, the bridge was started Jan. 5, 1933, and opened to traffic May 28, 1937, a little less than 4 ½ years later.

That's right, 4 ½ years to build the entire bridge (the longest suspension bridge at the time), pretty much in the open sea, with treacherous currents and dozens of special challenges.

Another big difference is that the Golden Gate had an eminently qualified and dedicated leader and manager, chief engineer Josef Strauss.

Chris Kniel

Orinda

The new span certainly is not safe

Silly question. Of course the new span is not safe.

Project-managed by Chuckles the Clown, as a sop to the combined stultifying egos of the Brown Brothers, how can it be safe?

Besides, anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with civil engineering, as applied to large public structures, knows that safety doesn't kick in until the actual cost reaches six times the original estimate. Still some way to go on this project, but this fortuitous financial wrap-around-the-arm will provide enough funding to satisfy all safety concerns.

First, earthquake retrofit the existing cantilever section. (Well, they did the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, didn't they?) Then, attach the new bridge to it. Safe at last!

Note to Chuckles: Do not use steel bolts of any kind to connect the bridges. Plastic straps and bungee cords make a far superior, noncorrodible, earthquake-resistant bridge.

Christopher J. Panton

Walnut Creek

Faith in the safety of the Bay Bridge

I am a 13-year-old boy who wishes to express his opinion on the construction of the new Bay Bridge.

According to some newspapers, the new Bay Bridge has been poorly made with "broken bolts, bad welds and rusted tendons." I believe most of the papers are wrong and that the bridge is good, because most inspector reports say the bridge is fine and has almost nothing wrong with it. Furthermore, the parts that are problems have been fixed.

I don't know why some other papers were misinformed. It may be the case of just not digging deep enough, listening to rumors, or not looking at the basic facts on how the faults have either been checked off or fixed.

I do believe, though, that the Times is right in saying the bridge is safe to use. I also agree with the testimonies of the people saying how they would use the Bay Bridge.

Evan Draeger

Orinda

Bridge is product of land that logic lost

A recent front page showed the old bridge next to the new. In a small inset, it shows a fallen section of the span.

Not failed but fallen. The bridge was designed to do exactly what it did so it could be back in action in a short period of time. Which it was.

Billions of dollars and more than 20 years later, we have a bridge full of problems without an earthquake. How long will it take if there is a failure in the case of another quake? This is California, the land that logic lost, and we keep electing the same type of people.

Bill Nelson

Concord

Span an example of how Sacramento works

No confidence whatsoever. They're retrofitting the retrofit. There's a lot more wrong with the job than what Caltrans is letting us know.

This is the result of how things are done in Sacramento -- corruption, sweet deal contracts, self-interest in extending their employment and to line their own pockets, etc.

There is no checks and balance; the Democrats feel that they can get away with anything and, unfortunately, they're right.

Leo T. West

San Leandro

Too many cooks, and they're making a mess

There is an old saying: Too many cooks spoil the broth. That is the situation with the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Now we have three more experts joining the group -- Frieder Seible, I.M. Idriss and John Fisher.

There are so many people involved with making decisions that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing; witness the controversy about the opening of the bridge on Labor Day.

The bridge, as it stands, is unsafe. I would not like to be driving on the bridge during a quake. Thirty-two bolts have cracked. How many more are hidden under a lot of cement? Bad welds, corroded tendons, missing test data and a rogue inspector cast doubt as to the safety of the new eastern span. Most of the newspaper articles about the bridge tend to cast doubt about the safety of the new bridge.

Caltrans, the California Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Toll Authority had better give a lot of thought to keeping the old span ready to use until the new span is proven safe to use and that it will be in one piece after the next quake.

Robert Beaudreau

Fremont