Wednesday, November 11, 2009

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

With Respect,

but why should structural engineers be looking at acceptable speed limits, turning radius and traffic safety measures for this? I'm also not saying the design is doesn't have its flaws. But realistically speaking, this is probably the trickiest portion of the span replacement with a new bridge next to an old bridge and a tunnel all in the same area.

Unless this temporary segment of the bridge is structurally deficient, this sounds like the job for Traffic Engineers to figure out, not structural engineers. The SE designs the bridge to span the route specified by the traffic engineer. I'm sure they had to work closely since each decision of one impacts the other., but the Traffic Engineer should be the one to decide the pathway of the road.

I know what your response will be since likely the SE is the prime for this project...but that is another matter.

I have no professional experience with Caltrans and it's bureaucracy so I have no opinion other than what every other driver experiences on the road.

Anyway, I drove over this about 4 times in a month, I felt it was adequately signed but people were driving like it was any other stretch of road. It was awkward to drive for sure, but it's easily navigated at 35-40 mph.



On Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 7:24 AM, Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl <> wrote:
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 innocent.

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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