Q I feel the opening of the new Bay Bridge east span should be delayed until the bridge is fixed. They made a gutsy move to not bow down to public pressure to get it open for "the big party" or the builders' financial incentive awards. I think resolving the bolt issue will be easier without having to worry about an artificial deadline. I say do it right and safely.
A I surveyed a bunch of Bay Bridge drivers Monday after officials announced the new span would not open until late this year at the earliest because of safety concerns over faulty bolts. The verdict: a split decision, with about a third wanting the new bridge to open as soon as possible, another third saying it's better to wait and the remainder not sure what is the right course.
Q We've waited this long. Let's be sure on safety and wait until there are no further uncertainties.
A It's been 24 years since the Loma Prieta quake, when a section of the upper deck collapsed onto the deck below.
Q I do not think the delay will have any impact on the safety of the old bridge. We're probably only talking about two or three months. Ongoing work on the new bridge will go faster without traffic on the span and will allow Caltrans vehicles to be on the bridge.
A And ...
Q If it is not safe, they should wait. And they should not be paying any bonuses either.
A But ...
Q If what I've heard is correct, the retrofit work could be done safely while the opening stayed on its original (Labor Day) schedule. If that's true, then opening on time would get commuters safely off the old span as soon as possible. No sense playing Russian roulette with commuters and the old span if you don't have to.
A Perish that thought.
Q When all repair factors are considered, if there is ANY reduction in driver safety by using the new span (including but not limited to lane closures, worker hazards, etc.), then delay is the right course of action. However, if safety experts say the public is best served using the newer span despite construction crews being present, then to not use it is wrong. The only consideration should be driver and worker safety. I can only hope the politics of the situation are not having a serious impact on decisions being made.
A Me, too.
Q If the new span is safe for vehicle traffic by Labor Day, open the span to vehicles. Keep the pedestrian portion closed until fully completed. Forgo the ceremony.
A I have no problems with that.
Q I'm not sure how three additional months could meaningfully change the structural integrity of the bridge, but I'm not an engineer. If these are truly additional safety improvements because of construction flaws, would the current bridge have a better chance of withstanding a significant earthquake over the new one? My guess is the new one would be more resilient during an earthquake than the existing bridge, considering the historic performance of the east bay span. As such, wouldn't it make sense just to open the new bridge and make those improvements as required?
I think I have more questions than comments.
A That you do.
Q Here's a PR move I would love to see: Both bridges open simultaneously and have drivers choose which bridge they'd rather drive on. Everyone's happy, right?
A Now there's a thought!