|The frenchies have one-upped us again
||[Dec. 14th, 2004|11:02 am]
Update: Nevermind! see the strikeout & footnote|
So, this bridge opened yesterday. It's the worlds highest
suspension cable-stayed bridge, is 1.6 miles long, and cost half a billion dollars.
Compare to the new bay bridge, which was supposed to cost 1.8 billion in 1998 dollars. Granted, the bay bridge is a half mile longer, twice as wide, and built over an ocean in the worlds most earthquake prone area, but still; apparently it will cost 4.6 billion for your typical concrete skyway bridge to be built here. Double that if you want a third of it to be a suspension span.
It seems amazing that a seven tower suspension bridge over 1000 feet tall can be built 9 times over for the cost of the new bay bridge. Something doesn't add up.
 I looked at the picture. That is not a suspension bridge. It's a cable-stayed bridge. Compared to suspension bridges, cable-stayeds require less cable, can be constructed out of identical pre-cast concrete sections, and are faster to build, hence the extreme cheapness of it. Makes me wonder what other facts the article fucked up. Which brings us to 
 Why the fuck wasn't the bay bridge cable-stayed? It'd be pretty, cheaper than the current dabacle, and hopefully almost as earthquake-resistant as a suspension bridge. bah. 
 Okay, so I got curious, and cable stayed don't like earthquakes at all. "If any cable is too long or too short, its tension will differ enormously from the the rest of the cables. Therefore, provision is made in a great many cable-stayed bridges for the tension in each wire to be adjustable during the building of the bridge. It is entirely possible to build a suspension bridge with no adjustments at all. Once a bridge has been built, adjustments should not be needed. In practice there may be creep of ground or concrete. More seriously, earth tremors may create significant changes in vital dimensions."
If there's one thing that Americans do well, it's work a lot. Note I didn't say get anything done, just work a lot. Speaking from experience in dealing with contractors in government, this is what happens: The contractors get a bid detailing all the stuff they have to do (not really; the bid is never done right, stuff is always being added and deleted). Contractors then take that info and figure out how much it will cost them, what to subcontract (most of it), all that. Then they add a few percent on top for contingencies (read: profit).
Once the construction starts and they find something they weren't expecting (a layer of shells where there should be clay, or a misprinted blueprint indicating something which is not possible according to the laws of the universe) all hell breaks loose. Engineers redesign. Stuff already built is rebuilt anew. Then you start having people who Didn't Get The Message who still do it the old way, and THAT needs to be fixed now. How is all of this balderdash paid for? With change orders! You'll rarely see any mention of the contingency fund being used; rather, they just add to the scope of the project, and add to how much the project will cost.
The bigger the project, the more is tacked on for each change, despite how little it is, to make money for the contractor (who is prolly loosing money because of how much OT the workers are getting to try to stay on schedule. Bah, now I'm irritable.
sorry, Didnt mean to get you worked up...have some more jolt cola :)
you don't even know, man. I just started my last one (thank god!) All the tests will be over this time tomorrow!
muststudymath muststudymath muststudymath
Yeah, thats pretty much it. The big problem with public works is that the gov't is usually pretty forgiving when it comes to going overbudget, and contractors tend to milk it like it'll never run dry. All the pipeline projects I've been on have been multi-billion dollar projects, (allthough they were built for private companies) you wouldn't *BELIEVE* the waste that occurs.
Heh, we got so fed up with the waste our cabling contractors were doing, we started writing into the contract that all excess supplies not used that we were billed for we got to keep. That was like christmas every week! Whole cartons of cable, panduit terminations, ladder rack, it was the best! Then they figured it out, and actually sent someone who can estimate. bah.
Now, take into consideration that occurs in every district, in every county, in every state in the nation...for pretty much every branch of the gov't. Think about how that money could be more effectively appropriated.
Something else to consider with the french bridge is that it's going to be privately controlled for some seventy odd years. They were motivated to get it done asap so they could start making money from it. Too bad they couldnt do something ike that for the bay bridge, it would take a load off the taxpayers, and pump that money back into the economy.
Whats really weird is the day we started talking about this, there was a segment on NPR about just this; the french bridge and why we couldn't have a decent bay bridge.
There has been a lot of conflict over the bay bridge, people don't want an ugly bridge, but at the same time, it needs to be considered that its going to be our tax dollars that build it. If a more mundane/utilitarian bridge can be built at a lesser cost than an artsy fartsy one, so be it...and use the extra to fill some other budget deficit somewhere.
Nothing so perfect will ever happen, of course, because thats just not he way the shit crumbles.