OAKLAND (CBS SF) – There appears to be a new problem with the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, so bad that the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission Steve Heminger said Wednesday, "This is the project from Hell."
Caltrans tests indicate saltwater from the bay may be seeping into the foundation of the eastern span's tower.
"We've got a water problem at the bottom of the tower foundation. Today's news about it potentially being saltwater – look, we don't want water down there of any kind, fresh or salt, because we've got bolts that are anchored in at that location that we need to keep dry," said Heminger.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the problem is raising questions about the viability of the hundreds of steel rods that anchor the span. The Chronicle reports Caltrans has known since late 2014 that many of the more than 400 steel rods were steeping for years in rainwater, apparently as a result of a botched grouting and sealing job by contractors.
Heminger said that tests so far have revealed they are dealing with both fresh and saltwater now.
"This is not an easy problem to manage because we're deep under bay water and we're in very cramped locations. What we've got is a phenomenon going on. Water is being pumped out and in some locations, then the holes are dry," he said. "But in other locations, water returns. Right now, it's a bit of a puzzle to figure out where it is coming from. We are going to investigate the problem and investigate the extent of it. We've just authorized testing and measurements in all the holes and locations where water is present and we're going to figure out a solution and fix the problem."
On Monday, the bridge project's oversight committee voted to test water from 100 flooded rod sleeves. The tests will cost $400,000.
"I wish we weren't spending the kind of money we're spending after we spent 6.5 billion in the first place," Heminger said.
Caltrans was paid $1.3 billion to oversee "quality control" during construction.
Tollpayers now bear the brunt of the on-going costs to fix and maintain the bridge.
This is just the latest problem for the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, as crews have had issues with broken rods, leaking and welding.
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