California Department of Transportation

California Department of Transportation

Date: June 19, 2015
District: District 4
Contact:  Leah Robinson-Leach
Phone: (510) 715-6730

Expert Engineers and Scientists Start Fact-Finding Process for Bay Bridge Tower Bolt Study

OAKLAND –A group of internationally renowned engineers and scientists met with top Caltrans engineers in Oakland today as they begin developing a testing and analysis program for the Bay Bridge tower's seismic anchor rod system. 

The engineers met privately for a status briefing as they begin their work, which could take several weeks.  

The Toll Bridge Project Oversight Committee created the panel earlier this month to help find out why three out of more than 400 steel anchor rods were found to be unable to carry seismic proof loads as part of the seismic system in place to protect the bridge's landmark tower during a major earthquake.

"These are some of the best people on the planet to help us determine exactly what was wrong with those few rods," said Dr. Brian Maroney, Chief Bridge Engineer of the Bay Bridge Project. "And we will also tap their outstanding expertise as we determine how we best protect the remaining 99 percent of the rods."

Among the globally recognized experts recommended for the review panel are engineers with membership in the National Academies of Science and Engineering, one of the highest professional honors accorded engineers, based on their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research with a lifetime's worth of accomplishments. The experts include:

  • JOHN FISHER, PH.D., P.E., M.NAE – Specialist in structural connections, the fatigue and fracture of riveted, bolted and welded structures, the behavior and design of composite steel-concrete members and the performance of steel bridges.
  • HERBERT TOWNSEND, PH.D., P.E. – Globally recognized in stress corrosion cracking and hydrogen embrittlement of steel fasteners, wire, plate and pipelines and establishing the long-term atmospheric corrosion performance of galvanized, Galvalume and weathering steels.
  • ALAN W. PENSE, PH.D., M.NAE – Specialist in physical and mechanical metallurgy.
  • KARL H. FRANK, PH.D., P.E. – Renowned expert is design and behavior of steel bridges.

  • SHELDON W. DEAN, JR., PH.D., P.E. – International leader in corrosion and corrosion testing.
  • JEFFREY A. GORMAN, PH.D., P.E – Expert on materials, corrosion, stress analysis, fracture mechanics and failure analysis.
  • ROBERT HEIDERSBACH, PH.D., P.E. – Highly accomplished metallurgical engineer focused on corrosion, corrosion testing and failure analysis.
  • THOMAS LANGILL, PH.D., P.E. – Significantly regarded in the area of galvanized steel and its use in particular environments.
  • JOHN M. KULICKI, PH.D., P.E., M.NAE – World renowned expert in all aspects of bridge analysis and design.
  • ROBERT BITTNER, P.E. - Extensive global experience in construction engineering and project management on major marine structures.


Additionally, members of the expert group include engineers and scientists from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will also participate in reviewing and advising on the testing plan and processes.

The expert panel will focus on the Bay Bridge tower's seismic anchor rods that were previously discovered to not be fully grouted and in some cases exposed to standing water. The panel will help design tests of anchor rod behavior in environments that environmentally and seismically reflect potential earthquakes to identify strengths or potential weaknesses.

The Bay Bridge is a "lifeline" structure for emergency vehicles and the community in the event of a large scale earthquake. The threaded anchor rods are part of the bridge's system to protect it during a seismic event. Caltrans recently completed an earthquake proof test of the seismic anchor rods system that met lifeline performance requirements of post-earthquake operations.

Please visit for more details about the Bay Bridge project.