Crack could keep Bay Bridge closed 1 more workday

Liz De La Torre

From The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is likely to remain closed at least a day longer than expected as crews race to repair a significant crack in a steel link that holds up part of the span, a state transportation official said Sunday.

A team of workers was in place Sunday morning waiting for the parts needed to repair the bridge, which carries about 260,000 vehicles a day between the city and parts east. But it was looking increasingly unlikely that the problem would be fixed by Tuesday, when the workweek begins and the bridge had been set to reopen, said CalTrans spokesman Bart Ney.

“It’s a race to get all the materials here,” Ney said. “People should be braced for another day of it being closed.”

Workers discovered the crack in the bridge’s eastern portion during an inspection Saturday. The link — part of a network of eight similar pieces — is about 2 inches thick and was cracked halfway through.

“The crack is significant enough to have closed the bridge on its own,” Ney said. “We have to make this repair before we reopen the bridge.”

The 73-year-old bridge connecting Oakland and other East Bay cities with San Francisco was shut down Thursday night so a section of the eastern span could be cut out and replaced with a new double-deck section as part of a long-planned seismic upgrade.

It had been scheduled to reopen by 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Friday was the first time the bridge was closed on a workday since part of it collapsed in a devastating 1989 earthquake.

California transportation workers have used the closure this weekend to conduct a top-to-bottom inspection of the bridge.

The last such inspection was in 2007, and the crack likely appeared since then, Ney said. He said he did not believe it was related to the construction project.

He said every effort would be made to reopen the bridge Tuesday morning but warned commuters to stay tuned for updates.

“The bridge will be safer when we open it than when we closed it,” Ney said.