Bay Bridge

Gov. Jerry Brown says he's 'not an engineer,' but defends Bay Bridge construction

OAKLAND – Gov. Jerry Brown defended the state's construction and oversight of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Thursday, saying he's been told that a Bee investigation raising questions about the bridge's structural integrity "borders on malpractice."

"From all the reports the Bee investigation is not very credible, and all our engineers that work with Caltrans, all the people that I've asked to look into it, they feel that the Bee story is baseless, it borders on malpractice," the Democratic governor told reporters at a press conference in Oakland.

Asked if he shared his advisers' view, Brown said, "Look, I'm not an engineer. I'm just communicating what I've heard. So, we've got The Bee, and they're kind of amateurs, and then we have seismic engineers. If I thought there was a problem, I'd let you know."

The remarks were Brown's first about a Bee investigation into state oversight of the bridge's construction. His administration previously criticized the reporting and called publicly for a retraction, which the newspaper denied.

In a story in May, outside experts said construction and testing issues uncovered by The Bee's Charles Piller raised questions about the ability of the bridge to withstand a severe earthquake.

"Our story examined concerns raised by insiders at Caltrans," Bee Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar said in a statement in June. "Our information was vetted by internationally known experts and supported by Caltrans' own documents. The point of the story remains solid after our review – independent experts do not believe existing tests support Caltrans' views."

The $6.5 billion structure is scheduled to open next year.