August 11, 2014
THEY COULDN’T BUILD THE BAY BRIDGE, but they want to build a bullet train.
A state senate report…charges that Caltrans bosses “gagged and banished” at least nine top bridge engineers, scientists, and other experts. In “closed-door meetings,” transportation department officials reportedly approved “extra millions” for “incentives,” “accelerations,” and “mitigations” to open the bridge by Labor Day last year. Their behavior, the report alleges, amounted to “an institutionalized, if not malicious, lack of transparency in the project. [...]
Several storms in recent years exposed parts of the bridge to flooding, and corrosion was evident even before the span opened to motorists. A few months before the bridge was scheduled to open last year, dozens of long metal support rods snapped. Metallurgical engineer Lisa Thomas testified that this was due to “hydrogen embrittlement,” a problem Caltrans invited by opting to use Grade BD steel, rather than the more robust Grade BC. Thomas says that hydrogen is to this type of steel “as Kryptonite is to Superman.”