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Made in China: San Francisco Bridge Fails to Meet Expectations

Written By: Christine Dantz

If you were skeptical of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge built in China, your suspicions were on the money. In January of 2014, a California Senate investigation released their findings on a far more important Bridgegate on America's West Coast.

Cracks, Bad Bolts, and Leaks

Inspectors of the $7.2 billion outsourced bridge found cracks from bad welding and other problems with the eastern portion of the steel structure. With egg on their faces, the senate investigation found widespread cover-ups among state officials and the companies involved in the bridge's construction.

Engineers' testimony found in the report, question the safety of the welds and large bolts used in the bridges construction. The large bolts hold the bridges earthquake-safety measures in place. One American inspector, overseeing the work in China, told the senate committee his staff found hundreds of welding cracks and advised California's Department of Transportation Managers.

According to the report, those concerns were largely ignored. Because the original bridge required replacement due to earthquake damage and the sheer number of earthquakes in the area, this is an important safety measure.

After the release of the senate report, another group of independent engineers advised the San Francisco Chronicle that leaks in the watertight structure could cause it to corrode at an advanced rate, reducing the longevity of the bridge.

Discount Infrastructure

The Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company, a government-owned business in China, completed the construction. Despite heavy criticism, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger approved the contract with the foreign company that had no previous experience in constructing bridges. The 3,000 Chinese that cut the steel, welded, and polished the bridge worked from sunrise to well past sundown, seven days a week earning an average of $12 a day.

Now the city faces the reality of a discounted, bridge made in China. What will the final price tag be once additional repairs are completed?


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