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Bay Bridge Opening Likely To Remain Uncertain Because Of Bolt Concerns

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One of the defective bolts on the new Bay Bridge eastern span. (CBS)

One of the defective bolts on the new Bay Bridge eastern span. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — It looks like an answer won’t be coming anytime soon as to whether or not the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge will be able to open as scheduled come Labor Day.

Public reaction about the use of questionable bolts on the $6 billion span has transportation officials seeking to reassure the community that safety is the top priority, regardless of the timeline.

“What they have said is that the most important thing for us is to have it be safe and feel confident that it’s safe,” said Metropolitan Transportation Commission Chairwoman Amy Rein Worth. There are two things: safety and public confidence. It’s really important the people feel that when they are on that bridge – and that it is safe.”

The public’s confidence, or lack thereof, will be top of mind for Bay Area Toll Authority commissioners when they meet Wednesday to hear how Caltrans plans to fix 32 giant bolts that have snapped on the new span of the bridge. But concerns remain about whether 200 other similar bolts on the span may also need to be replaced.

“A number of tests are in – but not all of the tests are completed. The most important test that is not completed, is a simulation of long term stress,” said MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler.

If it’s determined that those additional bolts need to be replaced immediately, it’s likely that the bridge opening would need to be delayed. But from an engineering standpoint, it’s possible that bolt replacement “may be able to wait a year or it may be able to wait 10 years,” explained Rentschler.

Not everyone likes the idea of waiting to make any potential replacements.

“That’s not a good idea. I think that all the bolts need to be in operational order before we open the bridge,” said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty.

(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

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