The Bee first reported last November that a Caltrans employee falsified data on radiation tests of foundations of freeway structures, and conducted tests on foundation piles of the new Bay Bridge main tower foundation without ensuring the accuracy of his equipment. Since then Caltrans has responded to concerns about the gamma-gamma radiation tests and complementary sonic-wave tests in sometimes contradictory ways:
"(Sonic tests) verified that the piles were fine."
– Tony Anziano, Caltrans toll bridge program manager, Nov. 14 on KQED radio
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On May 27, The Bee reported sonic-wave tests showed a 19-foot anomaly in Pile 3 of the main bridge tower. Experts said radiation tests are not designed to detect that type of problem. In June, Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty and other agency officials rejected those concerns, noting that sonic tests are neither required nor used by Caltrans to check concrete strength. Yet agency documents show Caltrans often has ordered or conducted its own sonic tests of foundation piles – including on other sections of the Bay Bridge seismic upgrade.
Sonic tests are "a type of testing that we actually do not require and we do not use for very specific reasons to assess concrete strength."
— Anziano, June 15 in Caltrans online presentation
"There's been thorough review" of the radiation tests of the Bay Bridge piles, and no problems were found.
— Caltrans Director Dougherty, on KQED radio, May 30
On May 24 a Caltrans team reviewing the test data informed agency executives of data problems with radiation tests on one pile among 13 that make up the main tower foundation of the new Bay Bridge. On June 1, agency executives were informed that another pile in that foundation also has suspect data.
Dougherty stands by his statement about the radiation tests. The report by Caltrans engineers raising questions about the tests is "preliminary."
— Caltrans spokesman Matt Rocco, in The Bee today, Aug. 5.
Caltrans found no strings of copied and pasted test data in the Bay Bridge records. That method is "the only realistic way to falsify this data."
– Caltrans Director Dougherty, at a Nov. 22 legislative hearing
On June 1, a Caltrans team reviewing radiation test data informed executives that more than 1,000 data files on freeway structures, including the new Bay Bridge, statewide have been doctored or show a wide range of irregularities, beyond evidence of strings of data copied and pasted.
" the Team cannot predict the number of significant irregularities that will be discovered in the process of reviewing the remaining results."
– Caltrans engineers, June 1 report