The Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge, the Bay Area Toll Authority’s busiest bridge, was expected to reopen today after it was closed earlier in the week when five tons of recently replaced steel supports fell into traffic and damaged cars.
The Bay Bridge is being replaced at a cost of $6.3 billion because officials don’t think it can handle the biggest California earthquakes. Parts of the bridge collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. BATA sold $1.3 billion of Build America Bonds this week to finance the latest phase of the project.
The closure of the bridge Wednesday disrupted commutes and led to a new round of headlines in local papers about the “bungled bridge.” The project has been beset by rising cost estimates and has been slowed by the need to keep traffic flowing during construction.
The bridge crosses the San Francisco Bay via Yerba Buena Island, and the island is a bottleneck in the construction process that requires engineers to construct parts of the new bridge on territory currently occupied by the old bridge.
Over Labor Day weekend, construction crews constructed a temporary turn in the bridge to allow them to begin construction on the new bridge’s approach to the island. During the complex project, engineers discovered a broken support on the old bridge and replaced it. The replacement parts failed this week. No one was injured.
A spokesman for Caltrans, the state transportation department that’s managing the construction effort, said the bridge would remain closed until safely repaired. Repairs were expected to be completed yesterday.