Orange County Branch Newsletter

April 2015

Branch News

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge - A Tale of Two Bridges

By Chad Harden, PE, SE
March 19, 2015 saw a riveting presentation by Dr. Brian Maroney[1], Chief Bridge Engineer with Caltrans, on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge New East Span Project.  Dr. Maroney presented challenges and lessons learned from this complex mega project.
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge New East Span Project
Dr. Maroney began the presentation as a “…tale of two bridges,” a metaphor for the austerity of the bridge coupled with the challenges of its construction.  Dr. Maroney described the trying experience as he scientifically and methodically examined the failure of a select set of critical anchor bolts for the shear keys and bearings at Pier E-2 – which had broken within a year of installation.
Affected Shear Key Bolts and Proposed Solution
The audience was led through this trying experience from the perspective of the Chief Bridge Engineer, which was unassumingly humble and, in this author’s opinion, an incredible example for both young and senior engineers alike to look back on when they are in a time of trial or difficulty.  Under great criticism and scrutiny, Dr. Maroney directed a very scientific and thorough investigation into the cause and potential solutions which are currently being implemented.  For up to date news and developments, see:
In “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough, (which is on the subject of the Brooklyn Bridge) the author shares this wonderful quote which I think is appropriate to the presentation and the civil engineering practice in general:
This structure, its construction, and the effort of the engineers and contractors, is a credit to our industry and society – a monument to last for generations to come.  For even more information on the Bay Bridge East Span Project, and some stunning photography, check out

As a reminder we are just in the throes of starting up the SEI Orange County Branch!  Follow us on Twitter @SEIOrangeCounty and we’ll keep you updated on continuing education opportunities, social events and structural engineering news! Or contact me for more information or if you are interested in joining the committee – contact me either way!

Please look forward to these upcoming events:
May – Geotechnical & Structural Engineer Open-Questions Panel (Bring questions!)
September 16 – SEI Social Event – Whiskey Tasting! (All are welcome)
Thank you!
Chad W. Harden, PE, SE,
RBF Consulting, a Company of Michael Baker International
[email protected]  | (949) 855-7058
[1] Dr. Maroney is Toll Bridge Program Chief Bridge Engineer and Deputy Toll Bridge Program Manager for Caltrans, responsible for overseeing the design for the Toll Bridge Seismic Safety Program. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at the University of California, Davis.