SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The investigation into busted steel rods on the new Bay Bridge moved to Sacramento Thursday as Caltrans technicians put some of the bolts to the test.

Caltrans ran three major tests on portions of steel rods used to build the new Bay Bridge.

“We are testing the hardness, the strength and the toughness of this steel because we need to know if it can serve on the bridge,” said Caltrans spokesperson Will Shuck.

Thirty-two bolts broke when exposed to high-tension situations. Hundreds of those bolts are already embedded in concrete piers in the new bridge. So engineers are testing a different batch of bolts to see if the problem is isolated to just a few bolts or part of a serious manufacturing defect.

“They don’t hold the bridge up or in place, but they are very important components in seismic activity,” said Shuck.

So crews sectioned off pieces of the bolts into testable sizes to see just how much destruction they can take before they snap. A single steel rod is able to withstand 30,000 pounds of pressure, but is it enough?

The new bridge is 25 years in the making after the Bay Area’s last major earthquake. Now Caltrans is feeling the pressure under intense scrutiny.

The testing will be entered into a growing database and could take months to analyze; therefore, halting the Bay Bridge’s expected September opening.

Thursday’s testing was done on a piece of rod removed from the bridge last month.


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