(Andrew Stelzer/KQED)

A supposedly watertight chamber on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge sprung hundreds of leaks during rainstorms this past weekend. While bridge officials say the water won’t cause damage, at least one critic says there are signs of active corrosion.

Guests:
Richard Land, chief deputy director of Caltrans
Lisa Thomas, metallurgical engineer and materials scientist at the Berkeley Research Company

  • EIDALM

    No thanks to Ronald Reagan who put an end to the U S steel industries , as well as many others including consumer electronics ,many autos,and so on. According to many experts there are serious problems with the new Bay Bridge that may render it unsafe in the short and the long haul ,and that is mainly we are so dependent on foreign manufacture for every thing that often makes inferior products…The real test on how well made the new By Bridge is to see what will happen when we have our next large earthquake as the one of the year 1989 but we may not want to wait and see that which may be great disaster..

    • Bob Fry

      The bridge problem isn’t just foreign-made steel, if that’s a problem at all. It’s CalTrans management who totally screwed the pooch. I see plenty of the same attitude in the other big engineering state agency I’m at. The staff engineers that point out problems are pariahs, the engineers who put on big happy faces get promoted. We’ve become experts at sitting around conference tables and having pleasant conversations, while deliberately and willfully ignoring persistent institutional and management problems.

      • thucy

        I’m reminded by your comments of Harry Shearer’s accounts of the US Army Corps of Engineers. They do great work in so many areas, but an impermeability to criticism leads to serious bleep-ups.

        • Guest

          The corps does not do great work today. That was Shearer’s realization.

          • thucy

            That’s sad. And scary.

      • carol

        No different than what we see in the Silicon Valley.

        • Bob Fry

          Yes, bureaucracies are similar whether government or corporate.

      • Guest

        So you’re saying it’s like a reality tv show where the backstabbers take over.

        • Bob Fry

          That’s a good analogy.

  • Guest

    This is a classic outcome that is to be expected when corporations and government merge, which is called fascism or corporatism. The two realize their enemy is the public and anything the public requires like safety or accountability or transparency is ignored or prevented. You see it here and you see it in modern fascist China.

    • Bob Fry

      What about the 1950s and 1960s, when government and corporations worked together pretty well to put men on the moon, the national Highway system and California freeways, greatly expanded UC system, and the California State Water Project?

      For some reason, 4 decades later, we can’t do anything right. As a state engineer myself (not in CalTrans though) it’s a huge disappointment and this bridge span is an embarrassment. Maybe it’s due at least in part to 30 years of being told government is the problem, a monster, and should be drowned in a bathtub, all terms used by Presidents, Governors, and most Republicans. Reality can be created by the attitudes and words we adopt.

      • Guest

        Apples and oranges. You’re talking about an era the 50s when checks and balanced had not yet been removed, but this naturally happens as fascism progresses.

  • Bob Fry

    And one minute into the show, the guest starts the happy-face spin. A thorough independent review of the bridge and CalTrans management is needed.

    Just for once I’d like to hear the thoughts of staff engineers about the bridge. Perhaps they could speak anonymously through a voice-distorter so they wouldn’t be persecuted by their bosses.

  • Bob Fry

    Not all the media is lying or wrong, Richard. Where’s there’s smoke, there’s often fire. And plenty of experts not hired by CalTrans have stated there are serious problems.

    I’m curious, has Richard himself got into the bridge and looked at this latest issue? If not, he’s just blowing smoke. Let’s talk to an engineer who has personally seen the problem.

  • jurgispilis

    I think it appropriate that it be named the Brown Bridge for two reason. In line with our esteemed mayor emeritus symbolizing corruption and money-grovelling in politics, the history of this particular demonstrates a similar history of graft, kickbacks, delays, and payola.

    Second, the term “brown” often describes a inferior service level, or an inconsistent service level, as in “brown-out”. I believe we can expect a history of “brown-out’s” related to this structure, as various safety issues are identified and dealt with.

    Hey, why not paint the lone tower from it’s current egg shell white to a appropriate wiley shade of brown.

    • thucy

      “Second, the term “brown” often describes a inferior service level…”

      If that were true, all busboys and lawn care guys would look like Spencer Tracy. In fact, “brown” workers are fast displacing working class whites.

  • Mike

    As a twenty seven year veteran of CALTRANS I would like to state that the level of, what I call the ingrown culture has grown over time. In fact we used to joke that the large chunks float to the top. Frankly the CALTRANS culture is why I retired a year or two earlier than I would have otherwise. I knew Richard as he was going up the ranks and knew that he would succeed. I have a small group of friends that I take virtual coffee breaks with and get no end of entertainment out of the latest bay bridge news. By the way if anyone cares, the estimate that was fed to the public for the new bridge, during the aftermath of the Northridge Earthquake, was one billion, in spite of the fact that those of us in the bridge department knew that our estimate of 2.5 billion was a bit on the low side. My own prediction, based on 2008 knowledge is that when the bridge is completed and all of the contractor claims are settled, ten years after that, the tab will total 10 billion.

  • Mike

    correction “call the grown culture” should read “call the ingrown culture”. Sorry for the error. Made correction

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