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MacArthur Maze Fire Collapse and Reconstruction-

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Dear SEAInt Friends: If you are interested in Mac Arthur Maze, last evening I gave a talk on it on Campus based on our NSF funded research that we have done since the Maze elevated freeway collapsed about a year ago due to collapse of steel plate girders heated up by a fire caused by an overturned tanker truck. The link below is to a news story in today's San Francisco Chronicle about the talk. We plan to release the final report in July. In the meantime if you have any specific question about this project please do not hesitate to ask.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2008/05/08/BAP210IEAK.DTL&type=printable.

Below is the text of Chronicle's news story.
Sincerely,
Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor and Consultant on Structural Engineering,
Earthquake Engineering and Protection of
Buildings and Bridges against blast and Impact
www.ce.berkeley.edu/~astaneh
---------------------


 BERKELEY
 Professor rips Caltrans over maze rebuild


   He says work was too hasty and costly

Michael Cabanatuan, Chronicle Staff Writer <mailto:mcabanatuan(--nospam--at)sfchronicle.com>

*(05-07) 20:07 PDT Berkeley* --

Caltrans should have been more concerned about public safety than public relations when it rebuilt the fire-blasted MacArthur *Maze* a year ago in an unfathomable 17 days, a UC Berkeley civil engineering professor said Wednesday evening.

At a research seminar on campus, Abolhassan *Astaneh*, a civil engineering professor who has been critical of Caltrans, said a year spent studying the accident and the rebuilding for the National Science Foundation led him to conclude that the speedy reconstruction of the collapsed section of the *maze* was unnecessarily hasty and could have been completed at a much lower cost.

"Transportation public safety has been taken away from engineers who care about safety and given to public relations people and politicians from the governor on down. All they want to do is make the public happy and manage the reporters," *Astaneh* said.

*Astaneh* made similar statements during the reconstruction effort, criticizing Caltrans for destroying debris that could help research the collapse, and for not considering a more thorough reconstruction of the damaged portion of the interchange.

An eastbound Interstate 580 section of the *maze* collapsed early on April 29, 2007, after a gasoline truck overturned and caught fire on Interstate 880 southbound directly below. The conflagration was so hot it caused the steel support beams on the overpass to soften, and the road sagged, slipped and fell to the ground.

The collapse, which left a 165-foot gap in the interchange and a big hole in the Bay Area commute, became known as the "*Maze* Meltdown."

Caltrans officials reacted quickly, within hours setting up detours and starting to design the segment that would need to be replaced. Less than two days after the collapse, the mangled section was removed, and Caltrans inspectors swarmed I-880 to inspect the damage to that segment and determine when it could be reopened. Traffic was allowed to return just eight days after the fire, with temporary supports bolstering the elevated roadway while crews worked on repairs.

On May 7, Sacramento-area contractor C.C. Myers won the contract to rebuild the *maze* with a low bid of $867,075, and an incentive of $200,000 a day for each day sooner than 50 days the work was completed, with a maximum bonus of $5 million. Myers, a confident man with a reputation for delivering jobs quickly, vowed to get the work done in 25 days. His crews finished in 17.

But *Astaneh* said Caltrans should have taken the time to do the job right. Instead of simply repairing the fire-damaged portion of a concrete column, he said, all four support columns should have been torn down and rebuilt from scratch. And, said *Astaneh*, the work could have been done in 21 days for $1.5 million instead of the $5.9 million it cost, including bonuses for early completion, to get it done in 17 days.

Caltrans Director Will Kempton said he did not want to comment on *Astaneh*'s criticism other than to say that the quick reopening was the result of good work and cooperation involving several government agencies and contractors.

"I'm very proud of our people and the work they did," he said. "We have the best engineers, the best people in the world."

*Astaneh* expects to complete the report, which is being done in conjunction with the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, this summer. The report is expected to document what happened and provide recommendations for design and construction of future bridges.

/E-mail Michael Cabanatuan at mcabanatuan(--nospam--at)sfchronicle.com <mailto:mcabanatuan(--nospam--at)sfchronicle.com>./

This article appeared on page *B - 2* of the San Francisco Chronicle



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