The news only goes from worse to f--king terrible when it comes to the two-year-old eastern span of the Bay Bridge, and today's update is no exception. The lead designer of the bridge, Marwan Nader of the T.Y. Lin International, has come out with some scary concerns about the integrity of the main cable's anchors something that Caltrans has tried to downplay as other reports about corroded rods in the bridge tower base have continued to come out. Nader told Caltrans of these grave concerns in a meeting in July, as we now know via minutes of a meeting just released and reported on by the Chronicle. In addition to all the other flaws in this thing, a design flaw in the guardrail system has been allowing rainwater into splay boxes in the bridge's hollow deck, causing rust to appear on some of the 137 strands of steel that make up the main suspension cable.
It appears the problem dates back to the construction period, when the area was left unsealed and exposed to the elements. And now it appears that a protective zinc coating on the cable strands has degraded, which is proved by the appearance of rust.
And as one expert feels the need to point out, "In a suspension bridge, the cable is what holds the whole thing up."
Some of this may be needless alarm on the part of the Chron, a paper which has dearly loved to blare the siren every single time a new bit of concern or evidence gets raised about the poor construction and design of the $6.4 billion bridge. Caltrans has said that there is no "active corrosion" anywhere on the span, and any visible rust has come from steel shavings left behind from construction. But then again perhaps there is an active need for concern about the cable strands, which could present a more immediate structural problem than the few, previously worried-over anchor rods in the bridge base that may be compromised due to hydrogen embrittlement or corrosion.
Caltrans has said that they have been waiting to do a full inspection of water leakage impacts after we get pounded by several days of heavy rain. At that point a plan will be drawn up to fix the various problems, which could cost as much as $25 million in tolls.