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Faculty experts

Bay Bridge reconstruction


Robert Bea
Professor of civil engineering
Phone: (510)642-0967
E-mail: bea@ce.berkeley.edu

Expertise: Before coming to UC Berkeley, Bea worked for Bechtel and Shell Oil. His background is in the construction of offshore oil platforms and pipelines. He said that bridge construction techniques borrow directly from techniques used in building those ocean platforms. He holds a certificate in welding and has a background as an inspector. He says visual inspections are insufficient when checking for shoddy work; radiographs and other methods are needed to reveal defects in steel welds. Such techniques were used to reveal defects in the Trans-Alaska pipeline during construction. (Those problems subsequently were fixed).

In his office, he has a metal cutout showing an example of a bad weld that looks good on the surface, but with defects apparent in the cross section.

William Ibbs
Professor of civil engineering
Office phone: (510) 643-8067
Cell: (510) 420-8625
E-mail: ibbs@ce.berkeley.edu

Expertise: Ibbs' background is in industry and construction management. He is an expert on the design and construction of large civil, industrial and mechanical engineering projects. He can talk about what delays and construction problems mean to the bottom line.

He has testified before the Massachusetts Highway Department about the cost and scheduling problems with Boston's infamous Big Dig project. He also testified in mid-January before the California legislature about the delays and cost overruns involved in the construction of the new Bay Bridge eastern span.

"Politicians said that we needed to have a landmark bridge," said Ibbs about the Bay Bridge project. "Well, if you want a landmark, you need to pay for a landmark. That's where we went wrong on this. People were trying to build a monument rather than a bridge. The sheer size of the Bay Bridge project and the fact that it's in the public eye every day makes this particularly challenging."


S. Katharine Hammond
Professor of environmental health sciences
Phone: 510-643-0289
E-mail: hammondk@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Hammond studies occupational exposure to solvents, fumes and lead. She has published research on high blood lead levels among Bay Bridge construction workers. She has a study coming out in the summer in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine looking at the respiratory health effects of exposure to welding fumes among factory workers. She points out that measures to keep lead from escaping into the environment could also create a situation where welding fumes are trapped.

She is a member of the UC Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.