The San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge is the most expensive bridge ever built. At $6,300,000,000 (count the zeros again without blinking), no other bridges in the US and abroad can compete with the money spent reconstructing this bridge. The exorbitant project was led by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
Charles H. Purcell designed the original Bay Bridge. Then it was built by the American Bridge Company from 1933 to 1936. In 1955, Bay Bridge was recognized as one of the seven wonders of modern civil engineering in the United States. However, after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the eastern side was severely damaged and had to be reconstructed.
Then came in the design and budget proposals for an earthquake-proof structure, a challenging feat that racked up the construction cost.
Many Americans opposed Caltrans’ ridiculous budget proposal of $4 billion, which ballooned from their original (and rather modest) estimate of $1.4 billion.
Roumen V. Mladjov, a structural engineer who served at Engineering and Design Advisory Panel (EDAP), wrote a pretty extensive analysis of the design and how cost could have been minimized by choosing cheaper, equally effective materials. He said that the budget could have been lessened by using more steel and lesser concrete. Further, he argued that uniqueness and earthquake-proofing do not justify the project’s outrageous budget.
His paper was published years before the world’s most expensive bridge was completed.
I wonder how he reacted when he found out that the bridge cost $6.3 billion upon completion. Its claim to fame? This man-made structure is deemed an engineering accomplishment because it can withstand the strongest earthquake. Well, that remains to be tested.