SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The head of a panel overseeing the new $6.4 billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is calling for an investigation of additional problems that have surfaced on the bridge.
Last week, one of the Bay Bridge's anchor rods failed a major test. Now an investigation by the three-member Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee will be done to determine what is wrong with it and just how big the problem is.
The committee approved as much as $4 million in toll payers' money to study the problems on the Bay Bridge's eastern span tower.
During last week's test, the rod moved easily when tugged on, which may mean it corroded from exposure to water and fractured. Significant levels of corrosive chloride were found in some sleeves that hold 25-foot long steel rods at the base of the tower.
"Because if the saltwater got in there during the construction, just like some of the fresh water did, we've got a finite amount of stuff and we can eventually suction it out and dry it out and get back to where we want to be," said Steve Heminger, chairman of the committee. "If it's an ongoing intrusion, that's obviously much more serious and would require an investigation of the foundation itself."
Heminger said they need to do a $45 million investigation similar to the one they did in 2013 after 32 rods failed. Caltrans started testing last week for saltwater intrustion after finding out chloride levels were unusually high in water around as many as 100 rod sleeves.
Now this means that Bay water could be making its way through cracks in the foundation to the anchor rods. Workers will finish removing the rods sometime next week.
California transportation officials say even with the recent problems, the bridge is very safe.
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