Tuesday, July 09, 2013

It's Those Darn Bolts Again!

"I'm not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens."

~Woody Allen

Isn't that a pretty picture? What you see there is the old cantilever section in the back, and the spiffy new, still being assembled, eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Both are attractive in their own ways, both have been designed to take folks from the East Bay to San Francisco. Safely. Hopefully. Most of the time I don't think about it as we cross the Bay Bridge. Why would I? When I cross the Bay Bridge it is usually Alan driving, and we are off on some sort of adventure. Maybe we are off to the museum or to see a comedy show. We might be planning to spend the day tracking down public art or perhaps we have decided to grab a beverage and watch people. Whatever inspires us to cross the bay is usually what I spend my time thinking about as we cross the bridge. Makes sense... right?

Well, all that has changed a bit. Do you see that spiffy new gorgeous section being constructed? Well, it has had some problems. Safety problems. BIG SCARY SAFETY PROBLEMS. Construction on the new spiffy eastern span began back in 2002, with a target date for opening eventually set for this coming Labor Day. There was to be much fanfare. Lots of celebrating of a long project finally reaching it's completion. Everything was all set... until... one day... someone discovered that there was a problem. A BIG ONE. It seems there were these bolts... there go the bolts again... that were... lets just say... SUPER SUBSTANDARD! I don't know about you, but I really put a lot of thought into bolts, which is ironic considering my father's feelings about the subject, but having the right bolt is an important thing. In fact... it's vital. And if said bolt is in good shape, and not substandard it's even better!

When testing on the ultra important bolts took place in March of 2013, it was discovered that 30 of the first 96 bolts failed. YIKES! Okay, so testing continued, and putting it simply, stuff had to be redone. First we heard was that the grand opening could probably move forward for Labor Day, but then we heard that there was a strong possibility it wouldn't, but then we heard it was all a go, but now we know for sure... nope... it might happen later this year, possibly December. Which I know is a bummer for some, but it's more important Caltrans and their contractors take their time. Intellectually speaking I have confidence that when it does open, it will be safe. The problem is, I don't know if I fully, 100% believe it deep deep down.  I have a bit, well, a lot of jitters about crossing the new Bay Bridge once it opens.

I love Yerba Buena Island, and the only way to get there is to either go from here on the eastern side of the bay, which means crossing on the new section, or go into San Francisco by way of one of the other bridges and cross from the western side of the Bay Bridge. Which isn't that bad, but it's that feeling of letting my jitters dictate my life the hurts. Sigh. There are a lot of things we take on faith. Faith that when we sit down on a couch it will hold us up. Faith that when we go to sleep, we will wake up the next day. Faith that when we hear that we will be safe crossing a bridge, because the government entity building it says so. And most of the time its all true and correct, but it's that the substandard bolts got through in anyway. And I know I should just be glad they found the problems, but somehow it's just not making me feel better. At this point, with all the going back and forward on when, and if, the opening day will be has left me... well... leery.  I don't know when, or if, that feeling will change. I just don't know how to feel about ever crossing the new span.

I guess I will just have to cross that bridge when I get there.

Eastern Span Replacement Of The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

TBPOC Announces New Bay Bridge East Span Will Not Open Labor Day, Releases Comprehensive Report. (The Wall Street Journal)

Bay Bridge History Timeline

Mood: Reflective

~Me :)

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