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Hydrogen found in damaged Bay Bridge steel rods

OAKLAND — Tests have discovered hydrogen in some of the damaged steel rods on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, an indication of weakness in the metal, state transportation officials said Thursday.

The California Department of Transportation said officials originally discovered that 32 of the 96 rods that have been tightened on the $6.4 billion span snapped two weeks ago.

The rods, which are essentially giant bolts, are being used to connect steel earthquake safety devices called shear keys to the bridge's deck and a large concrete cap.

The bridge, which is replacing the span damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, is designed to withstand a major temblor.

Caltrans officials acknowledged there is a risk that the problem could delay the bridge's opening over Labor Day weekend. Still, the agency says the project is currently on track.


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