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US contractor races to rebuild collapsed San Fransisco road


CONTRACTORS began racing to rebuild the collapsed I-580 sliproad in California this week to win massive cash incentives if completed early or face enormous fines if late.

Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger announced there would be a $200,000 (£100,473) a day incentive for completing early and a £100,473 a day fine for running late.

US contractor CC Myers has untill 27 June to complete the $867,075 (£435,733) project after being awarded the work as the lowest bidder on Monday.

The 230m section of the Interstate 580 slip road - part of the MacArthur Maze junction, serving the Bay Bridge - collapsed on 29 April after a petrol tanker carrying some 32,500l of fuel crashed and ignited on the Interstate 880, the road passing underneath the I-580 (News last week).

The fire that ensued weakened the steel beams of the I-580 leading to a total failure of two 115m spans. The beams were simply supported on concrete piers and not connected to adjacent beams - a measure that was recommended following the 1989 earthquake.

California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) director Will Kempton said: 'Caltrans promised the public a swift response and we are delivering.' Schwarzenegger added: 'No time will be wasted in restoring this vital artery to the Bay Area.

Construction crews will continue around the clock so that this roadway opens as soon as possible.' Up to $20M (£10.05M) was released for the project, but Caltrans anticipates the cost will be below that figure.

Schwarzenegger said: 'To restore the economic benefits of moving goods and people on this roadway, the agreement provides incentives of $200,000 for every day the contractor finishes ahead of that date [27 June]. Conversely, a disincentive of $200,000 will be applied for every day the project is late.

Custom-made steel girders and beams will be used, and sufficient steel and other materials are available.' The winning low-bid contractor came from a short list of pre-qualified bidders.

Work was expected to start on Tuesday and will need intermittent closures of the I880 ramp on some nights to allow the overhead construction.

Initial results from a study into the collapse by California University civil engineering professor Abolhassan Astaneh are expected next week.

He spent four hours on site removing samples of the wreckage for testing.

Astaneh explained that 'by testing these samples, my colleagues, professors Claudia Ostertag, an expert in reinforced concrete and materials, and R.

Brady Williamson, an expert in fire engineering, and I can establish the temperatures that the steel girders were exposed to, and the length of time the exposure lasted.'

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