In the article on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge California Scraps Sole Bid for Signature Span, some of the information is out of date compared with a recent Bechtel report (ENR 10/11 p. 10). The cost of the bridge has increased to $5.13 billion, more than three times the original budget. This makes it the most expensive bridge in the world. The cost for the suspension part of the bridge alone is currently estimated at $2.18 billion, including the foundations.
While the replacement effort for the current bridge (built in 1936) was announced as competing with time, the [California Dept. of Transportations] current estimate for completion is 2012. Ironically, Caltrans needs 10 years (construction had started in early 2002) to complete one half of the bridge that was built in 1936 in three years and seven months.
I think the sad story of the Bay Bridge proves again that designing and building bridges is the job of engineers, not politicians. What was achieved in 1936 should be possible in 2005. The suspension part has to be replaced with a new design-build bridge. It is realistic to expect the bridge to be redesigned and built in three to four years. Let us hope the energetic new California governor will look for help from state and U.S. engineers and builders to solve the current impasse.
I find it unusual for an engineering and construction industry publication to quote an unnamed source on his or her interpretation of a feeling, such as embarrassment, of an engineering company.
Let me assure ENR that the joint venture of T.Y. Lin International/Moffat & Nichol, which led the consultant design team, and the other consultants that provided services for the [self-anchored suspension] span are not embarrassed at the recent situation regarding the sole bid for the bridge. In fact, joint venture and Caltrans design staff are proud that their efforts produced an aesthetic design and we will continue to provide engineering information to assist state and local officials as they consider options for this portion of the bridge.
ENR surely understands that when a major project such as the Bay Bridge is highlighted in the media because of cost, community or political concerns, the engineering team cannot respond directly to inquiries from the news media. The joint venture is prohibited by contract from responding to any news media unless such response is cleared through Caltrans public relations staff.
Editors note: As the senior firm on the Bay Bridge East Span SAS design joint venture team, officials of T.Y. Lin International were contacted for comment. They did not respond to this request.
More Bay Bridge Fallout
November 8, 2004