California Department of Transportation

California Department of Transportation

Date: March 28, 2012
District: 4 - Oakland
: Public Information Office:
Phone: (510) 286-7167

Toll Bridge Program Issues
Bay Bridge Safety Report

OAKLAND – The Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee (TBPOC) today released findings by the independent Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel confirming the integrity and seismic safety of the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

In response to media reports calling into question foundation testing results and the safety of the new East Span, particularly its signature element, the Self-Anchored Suspension (SAS) Bridge main tower, the TBPOC — whose members include Acting Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty, Bay Area Toll Authority Executive Director Steve Heminger and California Transportation Commission Executive Director Bimla Rhinehart — commissioned the Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel in November 2011 to review records and answer questions regarding the design, quality assurance and safety of the tower foundation.

The evaluation, which covered construction methods, equipment and quality testing related to the foundation of the main tower for the self-anchored suspension (SAS) portion of the new East Span, concluded that no data falsifications occurred at the tower foundations and that the structure is safe. The Federal Highway Administration came to a similar conclusion after analyzing SAS foundation test data with a previous investigation.

The four-member Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel is chaired by structural engineer Joseph Nicoletti, who previously served as chair of the Engineering and Design Advisory Panel for the Bay Bridge East Span replacement project. Other panel members include Dr. Frieder Seible, who is dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California at San Diego; Dr. I.M. Idriss, an independent consulting geotechnical engineer and emeritus professor of civil engineering at the University of California at Davis; and Dr. John Fisher, professor emeritus of civil engineering at Lehigh University and director emeritus of the ATLSS Engineering Research Center. Three of the four panel members are also members of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.

The TBPOC has consulted with the external Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel on design and construction decisions over the years. At the TBPOC’s request, the Peer Review Panel will now turn its attention to a similar analysis of the foundation piers for the Bay Bridge West Approach project in San Francisco and the new Benicia-Martinez Bridge. This evaluation is expected to take several months.

Download the Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel letter report here:

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