Earlier this month, just two days after transportation officials said the bridge wouldn’t be ready until at least December, an independent engineer on the California Department of Transportation’s review board surprised bridge officials with his idea.
Dr. Frieder Seible’s “quick fix” —officially called a shim—involves wedging metal sheets into the seismic structure that holds the failed bolts. Seible said the sheets will hold the bridge steady in an earthquake until the contractor can finish the more permanent “saddle” solution. The idea is to get drivers onto the new, safer bridge as soon as possible, while allowing more permanent construction to continue.
The solution was met with interest, but implementation is still a long way off. Steve Heminger, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee, has asked the Federal Highway Administration to look over the shim idea to see if it’s a viable option. If the FHWA approves the plan, the opening date could be thrown into question—again.