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Bay Bridge Bike Path Bolts Break

| May 29, 2013
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has another bolt problem — this one involving the bicycle path, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Numerous bolts used to anchor the railing along the path have failed, forcing the California Department of Transportation to make plans to replace hundreds of the steel parts, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The news comes as officials overseeing construction of the new span are scheduled to update the public later Wednesday about repairs to 32 seismic safety rods that broke after being tightened in March.

The failure of those rods, which attach the bridge deck to earthquake shock absorbers called “shear keys,” has put the bridge’s planned Labor Day opening date in jeopardy.

State transportation officials are not expected to say definitively Wednesday whether the span will open as scheduled on Labor Day weekend.

Instead, they are scheduled to describe progress in installing a new steel saddle that will go over the base of the shear keys to hold them in place in lieu of the broken rods.

The problem with the bike path is not nearly as significant, the Chronicle reported. But it adds to concerns about the bridge project, which already is years late in opening and billions of dollars over budget.

The new bridge is replacing a span damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

The problem with the bolts on the bike path appears to be the result of improper welding, the Chronicle reported. Crews who built the path’s railing welded the bolts firmly in their slots rather than leaving a small amount of room to accommodate a natural expansion of the path that happens in hot weather.

As a result, many of the bolts have been sheared off along the 1.2-mile bike path.

Caltrans officials say they have known about the bike path problem since last year. Every bolt holding the railing will have to be inspected, and many likely will have to be replaced, Caltrans spokesman Will Shuck said.

“It will be 100 percent fixed before they open that bicycle path,” he told the Chronicle.

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