The Bay Bridge opening has been delayed until at least December, the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee announced Monday. The brand-new eastern span of the bridge, which connects Oakland to San Francisco, was supposed to open this Labor Day. Back in March, bolts that hold together a key seismic structure snapped, throwing the opening date into question.
Transit officials said they needed to investigate why the bolts broke and develop a solution to ensure the bridge is seismically sound.
In May, engineers from the California Department of Transportation recommended a steel saddle that would essentially replace the function of the bolts. Ideally, the saddle would have been ready before Labor Day. But the contractors now say the saddle won’t be fully installed until December 10th. That means the bridge would open mid-December at the earliest, but officials say the actual completion depends on a lot of other factors, including other construction issues and weather conditions.
The bridge must be closed for four full days to complete construction. Labor Day was originally chosen as the opening day to minimize the impact of a multi-day closure. Now, officials say those four days may not coincide with a three-day weekend, and that the public may not get much warning before the closure.
A previous estimate for the fix was $10 million. For a bit more of the history of the Bay Bridge bolt saga, listen to our past interview with one of the investigative reporters at the San Francisco Chronicle who has been covering the story.