Letters to the Editor

June 9, 2014

Bay Brdige: Caltrans Welding

Re "Doubts persist on Bay Bridge job" (Page A1, June 8): I became a state welding inspector in 1960. My boss had been an inspector on the Golden Gate Bridge. Bridge members were tacked in place regardless of rain or rust. Tacks were later removed with a air-arc. We never welded over tack welds.

As I moved up the career ladder, I became chief of the materials laboratory and later chief deputy director. During my 40 years, I observed that engineering decisions were being shifted to others. These decisions balance cost and the probability of problems. The wisdom of that old man who inspected the steel for the Golden Gate Bridge helped us successfully build many bridges in the 1960s. A strong experienced engineer should have been the boss on the Bay Bridge fabrication. Even the best administrator can not do the same job.

-- Robert O. Watkins, Ridgefield, Wash.

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