The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge has been open nearly 11 months now. But the controversy over construction problems and cost overruns on the structure, which has been building for years, shows no sign of abating.
The latest sign: State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) called, via a story in the Sacramento Bee over the weekend, for a criminal investigation into the construction issues. DeSaulnier says a report that his Senate Transportation and Housing Committee will release this week shows that Caltrans knowingly accepted substandard work at public expense.
The new report, which follows a draft released in January, will be the subject of a Sacramento hearing next week. DeSaulnier told the Bee's Charles Piller, who has produced a long series of investigative stories on the woes that have attended the bridge's construction, that some of the testimony expected is "quite disturbing."
DeSaulnier, in his second term in the state Senate, is running to replace retiring Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) in Congress.
Just to review, here are some of the problems tied to the bridge's construction: political battles over the bridge's design; the failure of massive steel rods designed to anchor the span's seismic stability devices; questions about the soundness of steel used in more than 2,000 other steel rods and bolts; leaks in the bridge's skyway structure that exposed crucial steel tendons to moisture and corrosion; leaks in the suspension span that could corrode structural steel; cracked welds in sections of road deck; and steel particles in the suspension tower's gleaming white finish that are causing it to yellow prematurely.