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Steel Tendons In New Bay Bridge Were Exposed To Salt Water

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) -- Thousands of steel tendons used to strengthen the skyway portion of the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge were exposed during construction to rainfall and salty bay mist, leading to corrosion concerns.

The Sacramento Bee reports that California Department of Transportation engineers in 2006 discovered that the ducts containing the tendons had been left unsealed, exposing the steel tendons.

Caltrans examined hundreds of the tendons and said it found little significant corrosion, but experts who reviewed the study raised questions about the agency's testing methods.

University of California, Berkeley engineering professor Thomas Devine told the Bee that Caltrans' tendon tests were inadequate.

Most experts agreed the mistake wouldn't result in a bridge collapse during a quake, but could make portions of the skyway unusable after a temblor.

A significant question raised by the Bee was not so much the extent of the problem, but whether Caltrans had enough information about the issue so that outside consultants could make an educated guess or even a reasonable assumption about any possible compromises in safety as a result of the corrosion.

Phil Matier: More Worries for Bay Bridge Project

This most recent issue about possible corrosion, coupled with earlier problems with bad bolts, threatens to derail public support and enthusiasm for the costly project.


(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

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