The facts are simple. This particular bridge design is not good (as was assumed) for resisting earthquakes and corrosiveness of a marine environment. To resist earthquakes, the bridge must use members of superior strength far and above that of more "normal" structures such as high-rise buildings. The strength of some of the critical members must be five or more times stronger than "normal" steel found in most steel buildings.
The quandary is what to do about such brittle members that must be protected from the infection of the marine environment. Such infection only leads to poor structural performance.
The answer is quite simple and a bit obvious: Sell the bolted-together bridge tower (40 percent off and free shipping) to a place that needs a structure of this stature but that has neither earthquakes nor a marine environment. California taxpayers wouldn’t see additional costs since the $3 billion sale of the tower would easily cover the cost of a cheaper, simpler replacement.
This is all quite plausible since the tower with its roadbed portions was fabricated in China, shipped to the Bay Area, and assembled on site. That can be easily disassembled and shipped to a buyer in a better location.
The Labor Day opening party should happen. The Bay Area should get to celebrate its state-of-the-art bridge – just don’t drive on it. Need to keep that "new bridge smell" for the buyer.
Putting the bridge up for sale on Craigslist is no joke. The notoriety of such an act would get worldwide attention, something that we want to find a buyer for the bridge. Unlike most modern proposals, there is no need for a “video” of the new bridge because potential buyers can come and kick the tires.
The bridge replacement? That’s pretty easy. One could do worse than consider Frank Lloyd Wright’s "butterfly wing" design, which world-renowned structural engineer T.Y. Lyn said was "eminently buildable with today’s technology. It would be seismically very safe.” The design even incorporates passenger rail inside its structure – something the current design leaves out altogether.
When proposed a few years ago, it was a question of Wright versus wrong. Now that the wrong bridge's structural integrity is in question, it’s a matter of using the Wright design for the Bay Bridge eastern-span replacement.
Leal Charonnat, Architect