Only 1 WB San Mateo Bridge lane open until Sunday

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Westbound traffic on the San Mateo Bridge will be reduced to a single file lane until Sunday morning while Caltrans crews work to repair a hole in the deck of the bridge.

Crews plan to work from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. every night, hoping to complete the work by 9 a.m. Sunday.

The hole opened up June 15th and Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus says that it requires much more than a pothole patch up.

"When we first went in there and saw the damage, it was a good-sized hole. You could see all the way through the bridge," Haus said.

Caltrans crews covered the hole with a metal plate, but six days later the bolts and the plate popped off.

"It just came loose from the wear and tear from the vibration of the vehicles," Haus said, adding that there were not enough bolts to keep it in place.

The hole is in the middle lane close to the elevated section, so drivers heading from Hayward to the peninsula could face delays. Ford Tabolo works for a construction company and is concerned about his commute.

"That is going to be a difficult thing for us," Tabolo said, "Every day I'm across the bridge. I work for a company that has a project across the bridge so I'm there every day."

Drivers might not see the Caltrans crews because most of the preparation work will be under the road.

"They're going to be underneath the bridge tonight shoring up the underside so they can actually do the work up on top," said Haus.

Haus says inspectors do not know why the hole opened up. He did note that the bridge is 49-years-old and at reaching an age when problems tend to arise.

"A structure like this, once you get around the 50-year mark, you have to do a lot more serious maintenance on them. So it's not unusual to have a problem like this," Haus said.

When asked, he said that Caltrans inspectors did conduct a review of the San Mateo Bridge structure following the appearance of the hole. He said there was no indication of any other holes or structural problems.

Drivers just hope this week's repair will last.

"I remember when they built that," said Kris Koering of Castro Valley, recalling the San Mateo Bridge’s construction. “If you got to drive across the bridge, you don't want to be worrying about it."

If traffic does back up due to the lane restrictions on the San Mateo Bridge, drivers can opt for a detour on the Dumbarton Bridge or the Bay Bridge. Caltrans says it is prepared to suspend some of the Bay Bridge electrical work if needed to accommodate any change in traffic.