Bridge-fix dry run finds minor glitch

A possible disruption to the Bay Bridge retrofit project was averted and crews were able to get back on schedule Thursday morning after preliminary tests showed there was not enough power to lift and replace a section of the span.

The bridge is being shut down from 8 p.m. today until 5 a.m. Tuesday to allow construction workers time to work on replacing a portion damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Two of the 16 computer-controlled hydraulic jacks that will lift the new section failed to provide enough power during a test Wednesday night, Caltrans Bay Bridge retrofit project spokesman Bart Ney said.

Crews had underestimated the size of the heaviest end of the viaduct and used more pressure during atest Thursday at 10 a.m. to fix the malfunction.

The jacks are required to move the new 350-foot Yerba Buena viaduct onto the lower deck in the area connecting the Yerba Buena Island tunnel to the new eastern span. Ney said the process takes 13 to 15 hours in the latter stages of the project, and the glitch could have delayed the reopening of the bridge.

The $40 million bridge construction should go as planned, and the seismically retrofitted bridge will be ready for drivers by Tuesday at 5 a.m., Ney said.

“That’s the reason why we do these types of tests,” Ney said. “We’re in great shape with the jacks.”

The crew will have backup machinery, so the likelihood of the bridge not opening on time Tuesday is small, Ney said.

The new section should last about 150 years. Crews first need to demolish the existing roadway and clean up the debris, which will take about 43 hours.

“It’s going to look at the same as it does now, except that it will be seismically safe,” Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin said. “The changes that will be visible will be at the toll plaza, where there will be changes to the FasTrak lane configuration,” which will have about 2,000 feet of extended striping.

The next scheduled Bay Bridge closure will be in approximately 18 months, Ney said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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