An oil tanker that struck a Bay Bridge tower on Monday caused an estimated $2 million to $3 million in damage, but the bridge doesn’t have any structural problems, a Metropolitan Transportation Committee staff member said today.
Peter Lee told the MTC’s Bay Area Toll Authority Oversight Committee that the bridge’s fender system protected the span when the tanker, the Overseas Reymar, struck the eastern-most tower of the western section of the bridge at about 11:20 a.m. on Monday.
Coast Guard aircraft and boats quickly responded and found no signs of a spill, Coast Guard officials said. No injuries were reported aboard the 752-foot vessel, which is owned by OSG Ship Management Inc.
Caltrans crews also responded and determined that the bridge was safe for traffic, which was not stopped at any time during the incident.
Lee said the MTC has money in its reserve fund to pay for emergency repairs to the bridge, but he said the regional transit agency will also try to collect money from the tanker’s owner.
He noted that the MTC eventually collected $3 million from the owners of the Cosco Busan, the tanker that hit a fender on the other tower of the bridge’s western span and spilled more than 53,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel into the Bay in November 2007.
Caltrans District 4 Director Bijan Sartipi said the fender on the tower that was hit by the Overseas Reymar “did exactly what it was supposed to do” in protecting the bridge.
Sartipi said the Cosco Busan actually moved the tower that it hit in 2007, but he said the tower struck by the Overseas Reymar didn’t budge.
Lee said engineers and divers inspected the bridge and the tower after the collision to make sure that the span was safe.
MTC Executive Director Steve Heminger said fenders on bridge towers are important because “these ship strikes happen more than you think.”
He said it is unusual for tankers to hit a tower, but he said small boats hit the Carquinez Bridge “all the time” because there are difficult currents in that area.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News