Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Caltrans Sharp S-curve on the Bay Bridge claims first life

Those of you who repeat what Caltrans says that these accidents, now a
fatal one, are the fault of victims, please stay tuned until Monday,
when I plan to release the results of our study of this S-curve and
whether or not it is designed correctly which it is not. I have driven
over that S-shape several times and first time I did, I almost got to
hit the curb like this trucker did. I am a very careful driver such that
my wife sometimes complains that why don't you go a bit faster! I was
going 40 but this S-curve sneaks on you. Also, no one expects a very
sharp S-curve in the middle of a straight bridge that they have driven
over for years. There is no way that anyone can convince public that in
a stretch of road only about 600 feet long, which this S-curve is , you
had 47 accidents with one fatality and several injuries in only 55 days
since its opening and it is all fault of drivers and engineers are

The root of this problem lies in complete corruption of Caltrans itself
and its Seismic Advisory Board. After 1989 Earthquake , when Caltrans
structures collapsed and killed 39 of the 60 or so fatalities of that
earthquake, Governor of California established a Seismic Advisory Board
to be independent of Caltrans and be above Caltrans acting as a watch
dog to review and approve what Caltrans does. The Board was chaired by
the late Professor Housner, who was truly the father of earthquake
engineering along with the the Late Professor Newmark.
When he retired from the Seismic Advisory Board, the next chair and the
current chair, and almost all members of the 5-member board started
using their position to obtain multi-million dollar research and
consulting contracts. Having been involved with bridge work in
California and doing research and consulting for Caltrans in a
legitimate manner, I have been to meetings that the Chair and members of
this Seismic Advisory Board have presented their work to Caltrans , as I
was doing my work at the same meeting, only to have
Caltrans present their own work to them at the meeting of Seismic
Advisory Board for approval.
As a result of this blatant violation of not only Professional
Engineering canons, but, more importantly the trust that public has in
engineers, the Seismic Advisory Board is turned now to an organ of
public relations office of Caltrans . Quite often the Chair of Seismic
Advisory Board and members come out and talk to reporters, presenting
themselves as an independent watchdog as the charter of the SAB
indicates and defend Caltrans yet they do not disclose that they have
millions of contracts from Caltrans as a consultant or researcher or
both to Caltrans.

Those of you who feel that no engineer should speak of ill about fellow
engineers are unknowingly responsible for the death of innocent people
who are killed in structures that are designed incorrectly not only due
to incompetence, they might be understood, but because of this type of
corruption in our profession. The killer S-curve, should have been
reviewed and approved by the Seismic Advisory Board but of course it
was not . The SAB is only a place that you get your payment from
Caltrans and rubber stamp anything brought before you, otherwise, you
will not get on the board and if you do by mistake, you will be fired.

If you are interested in knowing who are the members of the Seismic
Advisory Board, please go to following link where there is official
brochure of SAB. And if you want to know which member of the Board has
received multi-million dollars grants from Caltrans just Google the
names of the member + Caltrans. Just an example: Dr. Frieder Seible of
UCSD, the current Chair of the Seismic Advisory Board has received
millions of dollars to do testing at UCSD which includes his summer
salary payment as well as for private consulting.

Stay tuned and please do not be an accomplice to this corruption.
Instead, let us cleanse our profession from unethical and illegal
conduct of a very few corrupt engineers who are making our engineering
profession to sink below any despised profession. Please do not blindly
accept what engineers, especially Caltrans says with checking the facts.

Best regards.

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