- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2004

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Engineers have found more cracked concrete on the westbound span of the Bay Bridge, a discovery Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan says will mean additional repairs and costs.

Located near both ends of the bridge, the cracks are in subsections of the deck untouched since the span was built in 1973. Mr. Flanagan said they are not related to fractured pavement recently discovered on the deck surface, and the bridge remains safe for traffic.

“We need to isolate where this damage is,” he said. “We’ve got to come up with a work plan.”

The new cracks were discovered this month by a team examining sections of the concrete deck that forms the roadway of the 31-year-old span.

The outside engineers and national bridge experts are investigating construction errors that led to cracking on the deck surface revealed to the public this fall.

“While this is disappointing, we are fortunate we had the work group to guide us in this direction,” Mr. Flanagan told the Annapolis Capital.

Thomas Deen, a Stevensville engineer who heads the panel, declined to comment yesterday.

The extent of the subsurface cracking is not clear, Mr. Flanagan said.

So far, four separate sections have shown signs of cracks. They are located on the thinner sections of the deck at both the eastern and western ends.

Workers will need to go over the bridge using an “impulse echoing” device, which uses sound waves to chart hidden weaknesses in concrete.

After the extent of the cracking is known, the state will have to remove the old sections and install precast blocks, Mr. Flanagan said.

“Clearly, this will add to the overall cost of the project.” he said.

The $70 million, four-year project to overhaul the bridge already is more than $7 million over budget because of construction errors.

However, the repairs might not affect motorists as severely as the replacement of the deck surface. That caused weeks of hourlong traffic jams on Kent Island.

Because workers would replace sections of the deck with precast slabs, work could occur at night and won’t depend on warmer temperatures needed for proper pouring of concrete.

“It can be done in the middle of the night,” Mr. Flanagan said.

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