Brittle Rods Break During Construction of Bay Bridge Eastern Span

Bridges are impressive works of architecture and engineering, a fact we here in San Francisco know particularly well. Driving across a bridge is an exercise in trust. We rely on the architects who designed the bridge, the companies that supplied the parts, and the engineers who built the span. Our San Francisco dangerous roads lawyer is prepared to hold any and all of these players responsible if the span proves unsafe and a defective bridge proves unworthy of our trust.

Dyson-Supplied Rods Snap, Caltrans Cites Contaminated Steel as Culprit
bridge.jpgAccording to a report in The San Francisco Chronicle, Caltrans is planning to inspect materials used in the new Bay Bridge eastern span after rods made by the supplier failed a key test. Dyson Corporation made or supplied a range of materials used in the construction of the bridge, a $6.4 billion project scheduled to open in early September. The materials include 96 galvanized steel rods used to secure the cables that strengthen the bridge near Yerba Buena Island. Last week, Caltrans reported that more than a third of these Dyson-supplied rods snapped as workers tightened them into place. Caltrans also acknowledged this week that the agency had approved the bolts despite the fact that previous tests raised questions about whether the bolts could stretch during an earthquake.

Caltrans believes that the presence of hydrogen in the steel used in the bolts caused them to become brittle and break. The agency had not tested the bolts for the problem, assuming that any such contamination was been eliminated in either the manufacturing or galvanizing process. While Dyson did not make the steel, but was responsible for the process and running its own tests. A subcontractor was in charge of the galvanizing process.

Caltrans and Dyson Respond to Problem
Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty ordered that a forensic analysis be performed on the failed bolts. He also ordered an audit and re-inspection on all parts supplied by Dyson, including various fasteners and pins used since the bridge project began in 2002. The inspection would, according to Caltrans officials, likely involve sampling rather than testing every single part. Additionally, Dougherty directed another Caltrans official to give the contractor written notice requiring the company to demonstrate its compliance with contractual requirements and to provide details on their course of action following the bolt failure. Dyson’s CEO Brian Rawson says the company is cooperating with the agency.

An initial estimate from a Caltrans official put the cost of one potential fix at about $1 million. In a company memo, Dougherty stressed that engineers must be able to vouch for the bridge’s safety before a single car travels across the span.

Helping Californians Injured Due to Dangerous Roads
It is frightening to think what might have happened had the bolts broken during use instead of during construction. From dangerous bridges to unmaintained road surfaces and poorly planned curves, there are a wide-range of engineering and construction issues that can prove hazardous. Our San Francisco defective roads lawyer understands the complexities of suits against government entities or construction companies when a dangerous condition leads to injury or death. Call to arrange a free consultation.

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