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Bay Bridge work delayed

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Construction of the decks for the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge have fallen four to five months behind schedule, transportation officials said Monday.

Bart Ney, spokesman for the $5.5 billion replacement project, said the problem would not delay the opening of the new span in 2013.

“We’re not at a point where we’re saying this is bad enough to affect the delivery date of the bridge,” he said.

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The Shanghai-based firm, ZPMC, has fallen behind due to the complexity of the project, Ney said. ZPMC is a subcontractor of American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises, the prime contractor for the Bay Bridge project. ZPMC is charged with building not only the decks but the steel segments that will make up the eastern span’s main tower.

Ney said construction of the self-anchored suspension bridge’s tower would not be affected.

“We don’t expect a ripple effect at all,” he said.

The Bay Area Toll Authority Oversight Committee, along with the heads of Caltrans, BATA and the California Transportation Commission will travel to Shanghai next month. The trip is routine, Ney said, but transportation officials will discuss options for getting construction back on track.

It’s too early to forecast the delay’s potential costs, Ney said. The costs will be covered by the project’s $900 million contingency fund.

The fund was established in 2005 by Assembly Bill 144, which provided $630 million in additional state monies and authorized BATA to raise tolls on state-owned bridges in the Bay Area by $1.

Ney said Bay Area inspection crews working in Shanghai discovered the problem early.

“This is typical for large construction projects. In some elements, you find challenges and then you find a way to deal with them,” he said.

After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged a section of the span, studies determined that the entire bridge required seismic retrofitting. While the western span required some work, the eastern span is being completely replaced.

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

By the numbers

200 million Pounds of structural steel

5,000 Miles of half-inch steel strands in the tension cables

450,000 Cubic yards of concrete

525 feet Height of tower on new self-anchored suspension span

150 years Expected lifespan

Source: baybridgeinfo.org

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