Weak Spot

Faulty Fixes Led to Bay Bridge Crash

This time it was high winds and shoddy repairs, not an earthquake, that caused California's Bay Bridge to come crashing down Tuesday night—and now authorities say the commuter thoroughfare won’t be back in action until Thursday. A steel crossbeam and two steel tie rods snapped off the eastern span of the bridge to land on the upper deck, shutting down passage between Oakland and San Francisco. The three faulty pieces were installed over Labor Day weekend, when officials discovered a crack in one of the structural beams while performing planned work on the bridge. Commuters who rely on the bridge are now stuck with public transportation or other routes. Some highway arteries experienced 40 percent heavier traffic than usual. Winds in the San Francisco area reached 30 mph Tuesday, causing the rods to swing back and forth. "Basically, it's like taking a paper clip and working it back and forth until it breaks," said a Caltran chief engineer.