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Expert questions safety of San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

It's not uncommon for residents in the San Diego area to visit other cities in California. One popular destination is the San Francisco area. But according to a 60-page report, written by a retired metallurgical engineer, visitors to the area may be in serious danger, especially if they are crossing one of the area's new bridges: the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

The report's author, Yun Chung, believes that some of the high-strength steel rods currently being used to hold pieces of the bridge together may be prone to cracking, which could lead to a serious failure of the bridge. Chung's assessment of a potential construction defect comes as stark opposition to an assessment made by the California Department of Transportation, which rated the bridge as "safe and durable."

Chung believes that the reason his report, which he has been working on since the March 2013 structural failure of the bridge, differs from Caltrans' findings because their assessment was "based on 'unscientific' and 'erroneous and misleading' evidence."  For the safety of travelers who go over the span, Chung is suggesting that the suspect rods and bolts be replaced and that the remaining structure be monitored carefully.

After reading this, you might be wondering: is the bridge safe?  This remains to be seen.  While Caltrans appears to be standing by its assessment of the bridge, Chung's report has already received a number of praises from other construction and engineering experts who believe that his findings are sound and that his call to action is "appropriately reasoned."

Presently, the report is before the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee who will likely determine whether action should be taken or if Chung's safety concerns are unfounded.

Source:  Government Technology, "Independent Report Calls Bay Bridge Tests 'Unscientific'," Charles Piller, Dec. 3, 2014

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