Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bay Bridge Project Faces Delays

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 11:37 AM

The $6.3 billion Bay Bridge reconstruction project could miss its 2013 deadline for completion because of manufacturing and design problems. The Chron reports that major prefabricated parts from China have been delayed by a year because of welding problems. The Chinese company, ZPMC, also makes the huge cranes at the Port of Oakland, and has had manufacturing problems before. In fact, the port has grappled with ZPMC over bent crane legs and foundations.

The company consistently scores major contracts because it uses cheap Chinese labor. ZPMC was launched in the early 1990s by a Chinese engineering student who graduated from UC Berkeley and received help from the late Thomas Berkley, a well-known Oakland businessman and maritime figure, who once published the Oakland Post newspaper.

In addition, a British Columbia firm is having design problems with the signature single-tower-suspension section of the bridge. The single-tower design has been controversial over the years because it's never been built on this scale before and because it raised the pricetag of the bridge considerably. Caltrans came up with the design after former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown criticized a planned viaduct for the new eastern span as a "freeway on stilts," and argued that Oakland deserved better.

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