Caltrans Finds Problems with Tests on New Bay Bridge and Others

Thursday, August 09, 2012
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

A special team of investigators within the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has identified 1,000 files containing suspect testing data on roads and bridges, including critical work on the new $6.4 billion San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

At least 23 cases involve suspect radiation testing of reinforced concrete foundations in the Bay Bridge, Benicia-Martinez Bridge, Dumbarton Bridge and Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The Caltrans investigators characterized some of the data as “"intentionally modified” and engineers who have looked at the test results recommend that those bridges be re-examined.

Caltrans conducted its review of bridges and roadways following reports in the Sacramento Bee last year that technician Duane Wiles, who worked on the Bay Bridge, had falsified tests on other projects. The newspaper examined 50,000 test documents and concluded that some of Wiles’ work was questionable. A Caltrans follow-up investigation identified three cases of fabricated results. 

The Federal Highway Administration acknowledged last year that it was conducting its own investigation of past testing.

While no structural weaknesses have been identified, and officials at the state and local level are adamant that the structures are safe, the high stakes have attracted considerable attention. In addition to possible safety issues, the cost of repairing any foundational work would be heavy.

A state Senate Transportation Committee hearing has been scheduled for August 14 to discuss with Caltrans officials the falsified tests and their structural safety implications for the bridges.

Caltrans bridge inspectors are responsible for maintaining the safety and integrity of over 24,000 bridges. This includes performing bridge inspections in accordance with federal regulations on over 12,000 state highway bridges and approximately 12,200 bridges owned by local government agencies.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Caltrans’ Records Show Problems with Tests on Bay Bridge, Other Bridges (by Charles Piller, Sacramento Bee)

Bay Bridge Safety Concerns Trigger Local Scrutiny and Senate Hearing (by Lisa Vorderbrueggen, Contra Costa Times)

Bay Bridge Safety: Caltrans Report Laden with Potential Problems (by Carly Schwartz, Huffington Post)

Questions Raised on Bay Bridge Structural Tests (by Charles Piller, Sacramento Bee)

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