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  • Webinar No: WBNR 1139
  • PDH Units: 2

Webinar No: WBNR 1139
PDH Units: 2

Profile Photo
  • Webinar No: WBNR 1139
  • PDH Units: 2

Webinar No: WBNR 1139
PDH Units: 2

Intended Audience: All Engineers
Credits: 2 PDH Units
When: Wednesday 10/18. 2 - 4 pm ET

We promise you a very special webinar .  This is not your ordinary boring ethics webinar.  We are very proud to bring this webinar to you. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake resulted in the drop of a 50-foot-long segment of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, an 18,000-foot-long steel bridge. The earthquake caused the collapse of the concrete double-deck viaduct, killing 42 people. California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) undertook a multi-billion dollar retrofit and replacement program, which included the replacement of the Eastern Spans of the Bay Bridge with a single-tower self-anchored suspension bridge. The bridge took 15 years to design and construct, more than twice the original plan. At the cost of $6.5 billion, a 2,500% cost overrun from the initial estimate of $250 million to retrofit the existing span to a 500% cost overrun for the new bridge.  The SAS Bay Bridge had more than 16 severe structural problems, including the fracture of the anchor rods of the main tower, which occurred even before the bridge opened to traffic. This course traces the root cause of the problems of SAS Bay Bridge mainly to the “conflict of interest” among the engineer members of various advisory and peer review committees of Caltrans. The engineers charged with independently overseeing and peer-reviewing the seismic safety aspects of the new bridge were themselves receiving contracts to do the design and testing work on the same bridge they were peer-reviewing. Dr. Astaneh will present a summary of his extensive seismic analysis, test results, and retrofit design of the 1936 East Spans of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, which sustained relatively minor damage but was demolished and replaced with the new Self-Anchored Suspension (SAS) Bay Bridge, which opened to traffic in 2013. The seismic response of both bridges to the same ground motions that the bridges might see will be compared. He will show how the “conflict of interests” of some members of the top advisory boards and the peer review committees was at the root of the design and construction problems of the new SAS Bay Bridge. Some critical elements of the new SAS Bay Bridge, such as the tower and the east support’s 3-inch diameter high-strength anchor rods, fractured even before the bridge was opened to traffic.   References and Recommended Further Readings:

  1. Code of Ethics of National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)  (PDF)
  2. NSPE Ethics Reference Guide (PDF)
  3. ASCE Code of Ethics (PDF)
  4. Ethics, Technology, and Engineering, a book by Ibo van de Poel and Lambèr Royakkers, Wily-Blackwell, 2011. (Amazon page)
  5. Concepts and Cases-Engineering Ethics, a book by Charles E. Harris et al., published by Cengage2019. (Amazon page)
  6. Engineering Ethics-Contemporary and Enduring Debates, a book by Deborah G. Johnson, 2020. (Amazon page)
  7. Concerns on Seismic Safety of the New East Bay Bridge Design, by A. Astaneh-Asl, Submitted to MTC.
  8. Astaneh Letter to Bay Area Toll Bridge Oversight Committee on SAS Bay Bridge Problems, PDF
  9. Concrete Credence: More Bay Bridge Woes May Validate Concerns of Span’s #1 Critic by Glen Martin, CALIFORNIA Magazine (PDF)
  10. A Bridge Too Weak?, Ron Russel, San Francisco Week l
  11. Bridge Over Troubled Bolts: Cal Experts Question Whether New Bridge is Safe, CALIFORNIA Magazine (PDF)
  12. Cracked welds raise doubts about Bay Bridge safety, by Charles Piller, Sacramento Bee Newspaper (PDF).
  13. Do hidden cracks imperil Bay Bridge? By Charles Piller, Sacramento Bee Newspaper (PDF)
  14. A Bridge Suspended in Controversy WIRED Online Magazine
  15. Panel that reviewed Bay Bridge foundations has ties to Caltrans, Sacramento Bee Newspaper (PDF).
  16. Bay Bridge troubles began with design - SFGate.
  17. California lawmakers prescribe more transparency and independence for megaprojectsEast Bay Times

Date:  Wednesday. October 18. 2023 . Starts: 2 - 4 pm ET Credits: 2 PDH Units

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the course, the student should understand:
  • How the 1936 East Spans Structure of the Bay Bridge performed during the 1989 earthquake and why with a relatively small amount of retrofit ($240M) it would seismically perform better than the new 2013 SAS Bay Bridge.
  • How might the 2013 New SAS Bay Bridge perform during future earthquakes?
  • What are the 16 serious engineering problems of the new SAS BAY Bridge?
  • What does Canon 3 of the Code of Ethics: “Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner,” mean?
  • What does Canon 4 of the Code of Ethics: “Engineers shall act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees” mean?
  • What are the “legal” and “ethical” responsibilities of engineers in “Avoiding Conflict of Interest.”
  • How not “Avoiding Conflict of Interest” was at the root of many problems and failures of the new SAS Bay Bridge.
  • What “conflict of interest existed in the members of the Caltrans Seismic Advisory Board and Caltrans Seismic Safety Peer Review Panel concerning planning, design, testing, and construction of the SAS Bay Bridge?
  • What lessons can we learn from the case of the SAS Bay Bridge to “Avoid Conflict of Interests.”

Special Webinar Instructions

After payment, please visit this webinar page, click "Start Course" and fill out the Webinar Registration Form.  You'll receive email notification and details on how to join the webinar.  You will then be able to access the webinar slides, test your system and receive webinar reminders.  After completing the webinar requirements, your certificate of completion will be saved and available for download in your profile. We value your feedback! Please rate this webinar after completion.

Group Discounts Available

Course Reviews


31 ratings
  • 5 stars16
  • 4 stars11
  • 3 stars2
  • 2 stars2
  • 1 stars0
  1. Francis Gerace10/23/2023 at 9:22 am

    “Conflict of Interests” Corrupts Engineering and Endangers Public Safety- The Case of the New SAS Bay Bridge


    It was apparent the presenter had an axe to grind with CalTrans leadership. He did not try to explain the myriad of considerations that go into alternative selection for such a major project as this. His lengthy diatribe affected the delivery of the presentation as there were ethical issues were given short shrift because he ran out of time. For example, he cited hydrogen embrittlement for the anchor rods, but neglected to say the failed rods were exposed to a salt water for 5 years prior to being capped. This is environmentally induced hydrogen embrittlement and caused by the contractor.

  2. John Peter Kontolefa10/21/2023 at 3:20 pm

    John Kontolefa


    Good course, but power point could have been better. More boxes and arrows to show conflicts of interest.

  3. Bill Beasley10/20/2023 at 8:45 am

    "Conflicts of Interests" Corrupts Engineering and Endangers Public Safety- The Case of the New SAS Bay Bridge


    I thought this was a very, very interesting topic. It was well presented and in a way that was unbiased towards the agencies and individuals at the heart of the ethical dilemma. While complicated and unique circumstances surrounded this core ethical issue, I thought the instructor did a great job of dissecting the roles and outcomes of the various agencies involved.

  4. Susan C Hyler10/19/2023 at 10:01 am

    Engineering Ethics: Conflict of Interests Corrupts Engineering and Endangers Public Safety - The Case of the new SAS Bay Bridge


    Great webinar. Lived in Bay Area during the design process and watched completion of construction. Very concerning the issues you discussed both ethically and the final bridge design/construction.

  5. Randy M. Lund, PE10/19/2023 at 9:34 am

    SAS Bay Bridge Ethics


    Great Course.
    Some technical issues with webinar

  6. Lawrence Fetter10/18/2023 at 6:01 pm

    Webinar 1139


    Informative webinar. But why is it so difficult to find the quiz and get attendance conformation? I have been trying to checkout for over one half-hour.

  7. David N. Millman10/18/2023 at 5:17 pm

    Webinar 1139 conflict of interests corrupts engineering, the case of the new SAS bay bridge


    No comment

  8. Marcus Tunstall10/18/2023 at 4:41 pm

    Webinar 1139


    Excellent Review

  9. Robert Hoffmann10/18/2023 at 4:33 pm

    Webinar 1139 The case of the New SAS Bay Bridge


    Excellent insight….both engineering & ethical

  10. KATHRYN GUNKEL10/28/2021 at 9:12 pm

    Interesting Information, but...


    Interesting subject matter. However, the Professor came across as bitter because his retrofit design was not selected. And, to some extent I was left with the sense that he created this webinar to “get back at them”. But, that issue aside, it was very interesting.

  11. Donald Joseph Hagerty10/19/2021 at 10:10 pm

    “Conflict of Interests” Corrupts Engineering and Endangers Public Safety- The Case of the New SAS Bay Bridge


    Speaker was disorganized. He did not cover all the material on which questions were based in the quiz. He rambled and spent too much time on personal matters.

  12. Informative Course


    The material was very informative. While the course was to focus on ethical issues, there was a great amount of time spent presenting several issues that were simply professional negligence. For one example, I believe that the choice to hot-dip galvanize high strength bolts could have or would have been made regardless of the top-level conflicts of interest in the designer selection process. Also, I was left with the impression that there was a lot of selfaggrandizement by the presenter in the presentation.

  13. John M. Searing PE10/14/2021 at 4:23 pm

    Excellent Course


    This course was technically interesting and a refreshing discussion on the need for engineers (no matter what you are doing) to stay ‘in the light’ with respect to ethical behavior.

  14. James A. Sanford10/14/2021 at 4:19 pm

    OK presentation


    The subject was fascinating and relevant.
    Presentation was hampered by low audio from presenter, which was never addressed, despite chat comment. presenter often mumbled, which made the problem worse.
    I have passed the quiz, but haven’t been able to find how to print certificate — yhour process is too cumbersome/complicated.
    J. A. Sanford, PE
    [email protected]

  15. William David Watson10/14/2021 at 4:10 pm

    Very Informative


    Informative and well-presented. I understood the structural concepts, despite the fact that I am a petroleum engineer, not a civil engineer.

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