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The Bay Bridge Replacement Projects Case Study Analysis

Abstract The Bay Bridge Replacement Projects Case Study Analysis

The new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge East Span has four primary elements. It consists of the Self-anchored suspension span, The Signature 385 M single-tower, The 1.6 Miles Dual Box Girder Skyway, and the 467 M Yerba Buena Island transition structures as well as the 406 M Oakland touchdown approach. The designing and the construction of this bridge and landmark lifeline structure has faced the challenges of the varied geological and complex conditions at the bridge site, the state-mandated design criteria and also the hazardous seismic conditions.

History and Background of the Bay Bridge

Back on October 17, 1989, the Richter Scale 7.1 Earthquake struck the San Francisco Bay Region. In fact, the epicenter was situated in a remote area, Santa Cruz Mountains referred as Loma Prieta, which is hilly and approximately 97 KM from the San Francisco. This earthquake lasted for about 15 seconds but claimed 62 lives and injured thousands. This brought out the vast spread damages, particularly to communication networks, buildings, and transportation channels. One of the most popular and of course, significant transportation structure that was damaged during this earthquake was the East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The Bay Bridge was designed in the 193 and was completed back in the year 1936. It consists of four main shallow span trusses on Yerba Buena Island, five deep simple-span trusses, along cantilever truss structure, fourteen shallow simple-span trusses and several simple-span deck systems that utilize the concrete and steel stringers which were supported by a transverse concrete bents. The total length of the East Span was 3.4 Km (Ho, n.d.).

The entire earthquake damage to the bridge was the failure of the lower and upper closure spans at Pier E9. This resulted in the closure of the bridge for about for one month for repair the top and lower closure spans, which measured approximately 15.2 m long, fell when the bolts which connected the 88.4 m truss and the pier to the east failed. The collapse was as a result of a 13 cm movement of the truss span which in turn pulled the closure span of their seat support.

How the Project at Bay Bridge Replacement Project Went Off Track

Over the Labor Day holiday weekend, back in 2009, a 3000 ft long detour span was placed to connect the Yerba Buena Tunnel transition with the current East Span. The primary aim of this connection was to facilitate the continuous construction of the new East Span without and interruption with the flow of the traffic. Therefore, during the routine maintenance check of the original structure, it was discovered that there was a significant crack that measured approximately 1.5 inches wide in a 65 ft long eyebar in one of the truss span. The eyebar is a structural component that is designed to carry the tensile loads in the configuration of the truss. The eyebar was used in pairs on this bridge, and every half contained three lengths of the eyebar. The entire failure occurred at the top end of the middle eyebar (Carlsen, 2009).

About Caltrans, this crack could have originated from the outer edge of the eyebar head and worked inward (Upton, 2010). This is consistent with fatigue that was due to the stress concentrations at the transitions between the head and the bar. The Federal law mandates the Oakland Bay Bridge that is usually constructed using the eyebars to be highly inspected in every two years (Reid, 2010). Therefore, since this crack was visibly rusty when it was discovered, it is clear that it was there for a significant amount of time (Public Information Office, 2009). The crack was not found in the inspection that was performed two years prior, and it can be deduced that the break occurred sometime between the 2007 and 2009 (California Department of Transportation, 2011).

The Application Of Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

The Critical Chain Project Management is a new technique that was introduced by Eliyahu Goldratt back in the year 1997. The first attempt of Goldratt was to improve the entire traditional practices in the project Management by adding a new mechanism for managing various uncertainties in projects.

As a result, it was a perfect idea to embrace the CCPM tools. The central drivers for adopting this CCPM is to enable more predictable as well as shorter project times. The CCPM introduces the concept of the project and the feeder time buffer that necessitate the accommodation of the effective management of buffer time that is typically wasted at the activity level of the bridge. Therefore, the Bay Bridge could have used the task completion reporting through the CCPM. It is frequent practice for the bridge activities to be published regarding the work done. In fact, it is an economic measure that is reported weekly or monthly. With the CCPM the remaining time for the Bay Bridge Replacement completion is published on a regular basis, ideally daily to avoid such failure.

Furthermore, the upcoming and the current Bay Bridge tasks are monitored regarding the priorities to make sure that the activities carried out in the replacement of this bridge are efficiently progressing. In the most complex multi-project environment such bridge replacement or construction, many in-progress businesses compete with the available resources and the resources provider’s time. Therefore, in a CCPM conducted the project, these activities or tasks are prioritized regarding the ratio of critical chain completion and also, buffers the entire consumption, using different color codes. For instance, if an error were indicated during the construction of these Bay Bridge or even after the completion of the entire project, the task of replacing the bridge would be prioritized, and the upcoming activities displayed to indicate their relative priority and of course, the projected time when the construction is expected to become available to that resource.

Under the CCPM, the buffer usage of such constructions is monitored daily by the project manager and the recovery actions are taken when required. After the project of replacing the Bay Bridge, the CCPM consumption of the buffer will indicate whether the activities or the replacement is exceeding the ambitious time and also, that the task manager of this construction may require more assistance to avoid any situations of incomplete project or development of issues such as those that were discovered in this bridge. Various strict actions at the project level may be required in order to recover a situation like this.

Violation of The NSPE Code Of Ethics

Ethics is the entire study of the characteristics of morals that typically involved the selections of morals that are made by each as they try to interact with other persons. Therefore, those engineers who constructed the Bay Bridge are supposed to be aware of the ethics as they make their choices during their professional engineering practices. Most professional engineering societies all over the world have established the code of ethics such as the National Society of Professional Engineering (NSPE). The codes of ethics serve as a framework for the ethical judgment for any professional engineer. They also express the duties, rights, as well as the obligations of the members of the profession. They are not comprehensive enough to cover all potential engineers ethical dilemma but serves as a starting point in making moral decisions. However, violating any of these code of ethics may lead to the expulsion from any of the professional society, but it will not result in the inability to undertake some of the engineering practices (Engineering news-record., 1917).

In this case, the Bay Bridge replacement violated some of the NSPE code of ethics. First, even if Caltrans initially admitted to the people that the Bay Bridge would cost approximately less than 1.4 billion dollars to build, the construction cost has increased by about 400%, spending almost $6.4 billion. The way in which this Government-appointed steward of the bridge construction has used up a significant amount of money has been widely documented. There is no doubt that the explanations for the massive usage of the funds until the year 2005 were directly attributed to the political delays, time-consuming, design changes, and the unfavorable market conditions. However, the mostly unexamined history of the Bay Bridge Replacement Project costs since some significant changes in the management, back in 2005. In this case, the Legislature developed the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee (TBPOC) to take over the control of the Bay Bridge Project, which also gives a pause (Code of Ethics. n.d.)..

According to the NSPE Codes of Ethics for Engineers, it is outlined that engineers are expected to issue public statements objectively and truthfully. They are supposed to be objective and truthful in their professional reports, testimonies, and comments that will be aired to the public. They are required to include all the essential and pertinent data and the information is such statements, reports or testimonies which bears exact dates indicating when it was current. Therefore, it was a violation of the NSPE code of ethics for the management to announce that the Bay Bridge Replacement project would cost less than $1.4 billion in contrary to what was used in the construction. This was a more significant increment to what was approximated (Code of Ethics. n.d.). According to the NSPE code of ethics, engineers, as well as the project construction management, are also expected to express their respective technical opinions publicly that are discovered through the knowledge of the facts and competence in the subject matter.

The entire failure of the Bay Bridge Replacement Project endangered the health, safety and also the welfare of the public. Therefore, the collapse of the Bay Bridge project jeopardized the safety, health, and protection of the public which violates the NSPE code of ethics. According to the NSPE engineers’ code of ethics, if the judgment of engineer(s) is overruled under various circumstances that endanger the life of the public, or causes some damages to the properties, they are supposed to notify their core employer or client and other appropriate authority. In such cases, those who know of any alleged violation of this Code of Ethics are supposed to report thereon to the necessary professional bodies and, when relevant, to the public authorities, as well as cooperate with the proper authorities in the furnishing including assistance or information as it may be required. The obligation of an engineer in a construction project to hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public in the performance of his/her professional duties are among the most basic requirement. Its benefits are valid by the fact that it’s the first obligation that is stated in the NSPE Code of Ethics. Furthermore, the premises in which this professional engineering exists is found upon the proposition to protect the public safety and health; the State has a crucial interest in regulating and controlling the practices of such professions by law.

In the construction of the new Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge, the question of transparency was inextricably connected to most of the problems with the Bay Bridge. In fact, these issues were recounted in the recent news stories and attracted significant public attention. One of the excellent examples of the limited transparency as well as the associated quality issues in the construction of the bridge involved the welds in the bridge deck panels and also, the supporting boxes that were under that roadway of the bridge. Various news briefs accounted a few years ago to describe some of these concerns, but the Bay Bridge Managers quickly dismissed them, and issue that feel from the attention of the public. However, the entire inquiry has discovered enough evidence that the concerns with the welds appeared and then disappeared less due to the lack of any merit than from the ongoing lack of public disclosure. According to the NSPE code of ethics, it is the responsibilities of the engineers as well as the construction managers to act for each employer or clients as faithful trustees or agents. They are expected to disclose all known or potential conflicts of interest that may influence or appear to affect the entire judgment or the quality of their services. Engineers are not supposed to issue any statement, argument, criticisms on the technical matters that are potentially inspired by the interested parties.

External Efforts to Change Course of Bay Bridge Replacement

The Legislature developed the TBPOC with an exemption from the essential open meetings acts of California. Various officials in the TBPOC had suggested that the law needed quarterly reports sent to the Legislature developed adequate transparency for the management of the Bay Bridge Replacement Project. Therefore, these statements were carefully prepared to maintain the highest level of accuracy and of course, had excellent graphics. The improvement in transparency from the Legislature was a core external effort that changed the course of the Bay Bridge construction. Also, the entire Memorandum of Understanding that typically developed the TBPOC needed the oversight board in order to approve all the CCOs of $1 Million or more. The process of approval of these CCOs was documented in the TBPOC minutes.

The improvement of the transparency through the Legislature was in accordance to the NSPE Code of Ethics. According to the codes, engineering has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all the people. Accordingly, the entire services that are provided by engineers need impartiality, fairness, honesty, and equity. The NSPE also mentions that engineers are supposed to disclose all the known as well as the potential conflicts of interest that can result in an adjustment of their judgment or the quality of the services offered. In this case, to enhance the transparency, engineers who work in the public services as members, advisors, or as government employees should not participate in the decisions concerning the services solicited by them or their respective organization in the private or public practices of engineering.

Furthermore, before the changes, Caltrans did not have any readily accessible as well as a comprehensive list of approximately 1,500 changes orders that totaled more than $1.4 billion that altered the plans, strategies, and finance of the Bay Bridge Replacement Project. This was important since there were ongoing retrofit/rehab contracts that had already started. In fact, the changes of this inquiry discovered the anticipation of MTC, amounting to $855 million Bay Bridge rehabilitation budget, which was an added fund for the approximately $12-$14 million set aside for annual maintenance budget. Because of this inquiry, the former Chief Deputy Director of Caltrans, Richard Land, created most of the CCOs available and also assemble in a short, transparent database of the changes orders among the prime contractors who were working on the Bay Bridge. This was the first time the public had a precious opportunity to check at their critical reports. Therefore, there were significant lists of official studies by then, audit, and reports on the Bay Bridge replacement project. The statements presumably contained more valuable information, and most of them were created after the fact (News to the Next Power©. n.d.).

Also, this change of the course was in accordance with the NSPE Code of Ethics. The codes require engineers to issue the public statement truthfully and objectively. According to this Code, the engineers and contractors of the Bay Bridge provided reports that contained valuable information. They are required to be truthful and objective in the professional statements, reports or testimonies, which included all the pertinent and relevant information.

The New Contractor Controversy

In the fall of 2008, Caltrans re-advertised the contract with MACTEC’s quality assurance contract up for the renewal. This made Caltrans hire another company, Caltrop, which was responsible for the sub-contracted quality-assurance work to the organization of Alta Vista Solutions. This contract that was given to Caltrop worth $40 million. However, the independent pre-audit of the Caltrop/Alta Vista Solutions, which was conducted by the Mayes Testing Engineers, discovered that this company was not adequately qualified for the entire job. Therefore, the Alta Vista Solutions and Caltrop companies recruited some of the MACTEC staffs, a step that gave the Alta Vista Solutions qualified and experienced personnel who were fit and needed for the job.

Therefore, this change of the course was in accordance with the NSPE Code of Ethics, which required the engineers to be guided in all their relations by a high level of integrity and honesty. They are expected to advise their clients when they believe the project may not be successful in a particular engineering company. They are not encouraged to engage in any attempt that can injure, directly or indirectly, maliciously or falsely, the professional reputation, practice, prospects, or employment of other engineers. However, those who believe that others are guilty of unethical or any illegal practices, according to the NSPE code of ethics, are required to present such information to the appropriate authority for actions. Caltrans commissioned the appropriate analyses with a primary aim of addressing the effect of potential defects of construction on Tower Foundation. The necessary procedures and steps were followed in both the design and the development of the foundation, which limited the potential for any construction defects more practical. Also, these analyses that were performed by Caltrans were strictly warranted to give the required public attention on the entire issue.

Final Reconstruction

Back in December 2009, The American Bridge Company and Fluor Corporation were referred in to take the definitive repair of the Bay Bridge project (Reid, 2010). The last replacement for the failed eyebar had a six-step process. The first step was to cut and remove all the cracked eyebar head and part of the shaft. The structural hairpin, as well as the lower jacking bracket, was installed in the system at the cut plane of the entire eyebar. A new section of the eyebar was also introduced which consisted of splicing plates at every end. The upper jacking brackets were then installed and the rod pre-stressed. The newly established eyebar was bolted at the splice, followed by the removal of the jacking system (Reid, 2010).

The final reconstruction worked for hand in hand according to the CCPM. After the project of replacing the Bay Bridge, the CCPM consumption of the buffer will indicate whether the activities or the replacement is exceeding the ambitious time. Also, the task manager of this construction may require more assistance to avoid any situations of incomplete project or development of issues such as those that were discovered in this bridge.


The East Span of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge is a vital connection and of course, lifeline structure for the Bay Region road system. The closure of this bay bridge after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake interrupted thousands commuters’ daily lives, and also wrought primary damages to the economy of the Bay region. In the project that was initiated to the replacement of the Bay Bridge project, it was not clear whether the stakeholders first followed the codes of ethics according to different engineering rules which failed. Some of the external efforts made it possible again to reconstruct the Bay Bridge which mostly adhered to the NSPE Code of Ethics.

  • Carlsen, Robert. “Unexpected Bay Bridge Crack Slightly Delays Reopening.” ENR 9 Sept. 2009. Web. 22 Oct. 2017
  • Caltrans. “The Retrofit of the West Span | Bay Bridge Info.” Latest Bridge Stories | Bay Bridge Info. California Department of Transportation, 2011. Web. 22 Oct. 2017. <https://baybridgeinfo.org/projects/west-span>
  • Caltrans. “Self-Anchored Suspension Span (SAS) | Bay Bridge Info.” Latest Bridge Stories | Bay Bridge Info. California Department of Transportation, 2011. Web. 22 Oct. 2017. <https://baybridgeinfo.org/projects/sas>.
  • Code of Ethics. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2017, from https://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics
  • Engineering news-record. (1917). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • News to the Next Power©. (n.d.). THE SAN FRANCISCO – OAKLAND BAY BRIDGE : BASIC REFORMS FOR THE FUTURE [PDF]. News to the Next Power©.
  • Public Information Office. Emergency Repair and Detour Connection Completed on Bay Bridge. The San Francisco.Oakland Bay Bridge Seismic Safety Projects. 8 Sept. 2009. Web. 22 Oct. 2017. <https://baybridgeinfo.org/sites/default/files/press_release_images/ybi_detour_completion_press_release.jpg>.
  • Reid, Robert L. “Damaged Eyebar Section Replaced on San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge.” Civil Engineering (2010): 18-23. American Society of Civil Engineers. Web. 22 Oct. 2017.
  • Upton, John. “Bay Bridge Eyebar Woes Date to 1930s.” San Francisco Examiner. 1 Apr. 2010. Web. 22 Oct. 2017. <https://www.john-upton.com/baybridge.htm#top>.

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