SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Transportation officials said they will decide by July 10th if the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge will open as scheduled on Labor Day weekend.

The bridge’s broken bolts and how to handle their repair were at the forefront of Wednesday’s Bay Area Toll Authority meeting at Metropolitan Transportation Commission  headquarters in Oakland.

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If the opening of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is delayed due to the broken bolt problem, it could be next year before it can carry traffic.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission Executive Director Steve Hemminger said the Labor Day Weekend opening was scheduled in part because a long holiday closure would allow time for finishing work and to tie the span to the Oakland touchdown.

Favorable weather to complete the work is also a factor.

Heminger said because a timeline was still being finalized for the repair job on 32 of 96 bolts that broke in March and because testing of other bolts was still ongoing, more time is needed before the opening date is set.

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“It will be the facts about the bolts and bridge safety that will drive the opening decision, not whether it’s Labor Day, or Columbus Day or any other day of the year,” he said.

Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty added that the thorough evaluation of the other set of 192 bolts made by the same company as the failed bolts is going to take several more weeks to finish.

“We are well on our way to resolve the issue that came up with the 2008 bolts, as well as well on our way in evaluating the performance of the other bolts as was described today,” Dougherty said.

Heminger said part of the reason for the July 10th promise date is all the traffic planning, public outreach and other coordination involved, which takes time.

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