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Oakland Bay bridge needs simpler towers

News

A REDESIGNED cheaper and simpler tower design is being urgently sought for the new £3bn Oakland Bay Bridge in California.

Local engineers have until next month to come up with an alternative to the distinctive but expensive 250m tall tower on the self anchored suspension (SAS) bridge section.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has refused to fund the only bid on the table, which was close to £1bn. The deadline for acceptance passed last Thursday (News last week).

The California State Legislature opens for a short session in December and the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) hopes to have preliminary proposals agreed then, ahead of the opening of the full legislative session in January.

Caltrans is assembling a panel of local experts to help, and will consult 'widely' with the local construction industry - but not with the original sole bidder.

'The current SAS concept is still viable if we can build it cheaper and within the same time frame. But the current tower design is very complex and needs 67,000t of steel - enough to build 10 Eiffel Towers, ' said a Caltrans spokesman.

Rocketing world steel prices was one of the reasons the bid for the SAS came in nearly 50% over budget. It is also thought that the demanding four box tower design put off most potential bidders.

The marine foundations for the SAS are still under construction under a separate contract, and will be completed shortly.

Caltrans hopes amended designs will use the same foundations, but is prepared to consider modifying or abandoning them if necessary.

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