Today's Blockbuster Scoop From the Chronicle: White Paint on Bay Bridge Gets Dirty

Scott Lucas | July 11, 2014 | Lifestyle Story City Life

Today's San Francisco Chronicle has a blockbuster investigative scoop about the new span of the Bay Bridge. Is it going to fall down in a stiff breeze? No, it's fine. Are the palm trees actually releasing some kind of toxic poison? Nyet. Have they found evidence of a massive corruption scheme involving unions, the United States Navy, jailed Chinese politician Bo Xilai, Willie Brown, and Giants mascot Lou Seal? Worse. Way worse.

The white paint is kind of dirty and they have to clean it.

Wow. That's A-1 above-the-fold stuff, folks. Do tell us more! Turns out that during part of the construction process, molten steel particles were released, some of which found their way into the white paint that covers the bridge's iconic central tower. Those bits, which are now cooled and hard to remove, are beginning to show signs of orange rust. So the bridge authorities are sending up crews of workers armed with detergent to either scrub away the steel or to paint over it. The total cost of this operation? Less than a million bucks. To put it in perspective, that's 0.016% of the bridge's total $6.4 billion cost, or about what you'll pay for a plate of artfully-arranged moss and rocks at Coi.

The new scoop comes in a long line of Chronicle discoveries about skullduggery and incompetence at the bridge, including the time that steel rods had to be "readjusted," the time that authorities decided it was just easier to cut a check to a Chinese welding operation rather than engage in "protracted, complex and burdensome" talks, and the time that a "manageable" amount of water leaked in.

The paint problem doesn't even seem to come as much of a "dirty surprise" to Caltrans, which says that it opted to have the bridge parts painted in China, where they were fabricated, to help avoid corrosion in the oceanic crossing. If anything, the mistake looks to have been not putting up tarps during parts of the building process in the Bay. The paper reports that "Caltrans spokeswoman Brigetta Smith emphasized that there was no underlying problem with the paint."

Now if that isn't front-page news, we don't know what is.

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