OAKLAND (KCBS) – Caltrans officials are acknowledging that tiny cracks have been found in some of the rods on the new Bay Bridge tower, and that is bringing into question the integrity of the other 400 fasteners.

Brian Maroney is Caltrans’ chief engineer for the project. He told an oversight panel in Oakland on Tuesday that at least two rods were found to have microscopic cracks. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the problem is not confirmed to affect all the rods, but Maroney said it could be widespread, and the rods may need to be repaired or replaced.

It was just last month when Caltrans told KCBS that nearly all of the rods had passed testing.

“It is absolutely safe. The bridge will function as designed,” Caltrans spokeswoman Leah Robinson-Leach said last month. “Those rods are an additional layer of performance and as a result of 99.5 percent of those tested being functional, it just indicates that the tower and the bridge would function in normal, everyday use as well as in a seismic event.”

A handful of engineers that talked to the Chronicle said this latest discovery points to the cracking being the result of the rods being exposed to water, and more importantly, the hydrogen in the water attacking the rods.

Thus far, the panel has decided not to approve funds for either cleaning or protecting the rods. They are awaiting word from a panel of engineering experts, who are expected to recommend further testing.

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