October 29, 2009 in Nation/World

Bay Bridge closed by falling metal

Los Angeles Times
Associated Press photo

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge remains closed through the afternoon in San Francisco Wednesday, after steel rods and a crossbeam fell into traffic lanes.
(Full-size photo)

Five-thousand pounds of metal from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge fell down on commuters Tuesday because vibrations, worsened by a wind storm, caused steel rods to break, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation said Wednesday.

Bart Fey, the spokesman, said drivers should find “other routes around the Bay Area over the next day or so” while repairs and testing continue.

He said the bridge was expected to be closed this morning; he did not know when it would be reopened.

The part that failed was installed over the Labor Day weekend in an emergency repair after inspectors discovered a crack in a critical structural beam.

“Obviously, there is an issue with the original design” of the repair for the fractured beam, Fey said.

Three vehicles were damaged but no one was seriously injured when the rupture occurred at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The bridge was then closed.

The closure of the span, traveled daily by 280,000 motorists, produced gridlock on other bridges spanning the bay and huge ridership on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. BART added more cars to trains to accommodate the crowds.

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