San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Weld Controversy

The eastern span replacement of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge has been under construction since 2002. Originally scheduled to open in 2007, several delays caused it to now be scheduled to open to traffic on or just after Labor Day 2013 at an estimated cost of $6.3 billion.

The Bay Bridge has two major sections: the western suspension spans and their approach structures between San Francisco and Yerba Buena Island (YBI), and various types of truss spans between YBI and the eastern terminus in Oakland.

The original spans of the bridge east of Yerba Buena Island became the subject of concern after a section collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake on October 17, 1989. The replacement span is engineered to withstand the largest earthquake expected over a 1500 year period, and it is expected to last at least 150 years with proper maintenance.

The self-anchored suspension (SAS) tower reached structural completion in 2011 while the entire SAS span was fully built by summer 2012. Load transfer was completed on November 20, 2012, officially making the span the largest self-anchored suspension bridge in the world.

Major construction work has been completed to link the westbound connection from the SAS to Yerba Buena Island only various ramps for island traffic, not critical for opening, remain to be constructed. On March 2013, the Oakland Touchdown was completed - the entire roadway of the bridge is now structurally complete and only needs wear surface paving, while the SAS tower only needs final painting. The bridge is now self-supporting so scaffolding is being removed.

A recent revelation of certain bolts failing under in-situ testing may (or may not) delay the projected Labor Day opening in early September 2013.

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