Hearing focuses on mistakes made on Bay Bridge

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Government and private engineers told a state Senate commission that pressure to complete the new $6.4 billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge led to cracked welds and other subpar work on the crossing.

The testimony Friday before the state Senate's Transportation and Housing Committee did not conclude the new span is unsafe, but highlighted construction mistakes that could have been prevented and which may lead to costly future repairs.

Metallurgy experts including James Merrill, an engineer who oversaw inspections of key bridge pieces, testified that defective seismic safety rods that failed last March were made of a corrosion-prone steel that should never have been used.

Merrill said that despite warnings that the rods were subpar, the California Department of Transportation approved them.

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