Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Must Reads: UC Berkeley Experts Say New Bridge Is Unsafe; Caltrans Never Approved Dangerous S-Curve

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Some UC Berkeley engineering experts are raising serious questions about the safety of the new Bay Bridge, even contending that the old bridge — now being dismantled — was a safer structure, California Magazine reports. Cal professor of civil and environmental engineering Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl said that considering the new bridge’s “2,300 faulty anchor bolts, the cracked welds, the corroded tendons in the girders, the basic flawed design — there’s no doubt in my mind that the old bridge is much, much safer than the new bridge. [The new span] should not be opened to the public. All the evidence that Caltrans has indicates this bridge will collapse when the Hayward Fault ruptures.”

2. Caltrans never properly approved the dangerous S-Curve installed on the old Bay Bridge that resulted in the death of a Hayward trucker whose big rig plunged off the span in 2009 while attempting to negotiate the tight turn, the Chron reports. In addition, the design of the S-Curve — which was approved by a low-level Caltrans engineer who did not have the authority to do so — failed to follow industry standards. The revelations about the narrow curve became public as a result of a lawsuit filed by the trucker’s family.

3. The Wall Street bond market appears to be punishing the City of Richmond for its groundbreaking plan to help homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages, the Chron reports. Big banks adamantly oppose Richmond’s plan, which involves seizing underwater mortgages through eminent domain and refinancing them so that homeowners can afford to stay in their homes. Bond markets responded by forcing the city spend an extra $4 million in a recent bond sale.

4. A federal appeals court upheld California’s ban on anti-gay therapies, the Chron reports.

5. Toxic mercury in seafood can be traced to coal-burning plants in Asia, the Chron reports.

6. And the average cost of raising a child in the United States has ballooned to $241,080, not including the costs of sending your kid to college, the LA Times$ reports.

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