The California Department of Transportation recently released a maintenance order to protect steel sections and prevent leaks in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
The order was issued as the region enters a heavy El Nino rainy season, with above-normal levels of rain expected in Northern California. The work -- which mostly includes adding weep holes, replacing or refilling grease caps, reinforcing concrete structures and adding caulk steel elements -- is scheduled to be finished by the middle of this year.
The maintenance order, signed in December, budgets up to $3 million for the work. The contractor, Golden State Bridge Inc. of Benicia, California, will assist engineers at Caltrans.
All of the funds will be allocated from the Toll Bridge Rehabilitation funds under the Bay Area Toll Authority. Experts estimate that the project will cost well below the $3 million budget.
The maintenance concerns were noted earlier, but the problems became more serious when the first heavy rains of the season fell in the area -- the first since the bridge was finished in 2013, as the state has been under a long drought.
Monitoring and reinforcing the bridge against water damage will be an ongoing project. The steel components must get very little exposure to the elements to remain in working order.