On June 15, the same day the California Dept. of Transportation used a live public webinar to defend its safety testing of a new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge tower foundation, the newspaper that started the safety controversy, The Sacramento Bee, refused to retract a story to which Caltrans objected.
Caltrans' acting director, Malcolm Dougherty, sent a letter on June 7 to Joyce Terhaar, executive editor of the Bee, requesting an immediate retraction of a May 27 story ("Records Raise Doubts on Bay Bridge Concrete") that asserts a subcontractor disclosed to Caltrans the results of a 2007 foundation test thatrevealed the concrete had not hardened sufficiently, along with other testing problems.
In a statement on June 15, Terhaar said there is "no reason" for a retraction. "Our information was vetted by internationally known experts and supported by Caltrans' own documents," she said.
At issue specifically were testing methods used on two of the 13 pilings that anchor the self-anchored suspension- bridge tower section of the new east span. In 2007, the subcontractor, Olson Engineering, Denver, did a cross-hole sonic logging (CSL) test on Pile 3 outside of Caltrans' authority; the test, conducted four days after the pour, found "a large section of concrete that was very poor or not fully set," according to the Bee. In his letter to the Bee, Dougherty said the department does not use CSL testing; instead, it used a gamma-gamma logging (GGL) test that did not find any defects in the concrete. The test also showed the concrete hardened correctly after 28 days, the department's normal testing schedule.
Furthermore, the Bee claimed Pile 8 had "inferior concrete" and was "plagued by test and construction problems." In his letter, Dougherty countered that all tests—the "slump test" performed during the pour, the "break test," the GGL tests performed after the pour and the later chipping—demonstrated "no abnormalities." Dougherty said this information was provided to the Bee reporter, Charles Piller.