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Bay Bridge Pier Implosions Loom

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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The last vestiges of the old eastern span of San Francisco’s famed Bay Bridge will be disappearing over a series of weekend blasts this fall, according to the California Department of Transportation.

Bay Bridge demolition
Burkhard Mucke, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The old eastern span of the Bay Bridge was demolished piece by piece after the new span was opened in 2013; now, the final remaining piers will be imploded over a series of weekends this fall.

The concrete piers that held up the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge’s eastern span, a cantilever bridge that stretched nearly two miles between Oakland and Yerba Buena Island, will be demolished two or three at a time over a number of weekends from September through November, according to reports.

Accelerated Demolition

Caltrans told KTVU-TV that there are 13 piers remaining to be removed, and that earlier implosions were successful enough that the agency feels it can blast multiple piers at once, speeding the finish of the project. According to SFGate, Brian Maroney, the agency’s chief bridge engineer, predicts the demolition will be complete before Thanksgiving.

Eight piers will be left intact and are likely to be made into an observation deck; a final vote on that project is due later this month.

Officials say they expect $10 million in overall savings as a result of limiting the demolition days to seven this fall. Limiting the number of days blasting will allow Caltrans to limit closures of the new eastern span, which opened in 2013, in addition to limiting the days contractors will be paid to be working onsite.

The Replacement

The old eastern span of the Bay Bridge was replaced due to concerns about its safety under earthquake conditions; part of the span infamously collapsed during 1989’s Loma Prieta earthquake, killing one driver. While the western span—a suspension bridge reaching from San Francisco to Yerba Buena—was retrofitted for seismic durability, Caltrans determined that the eastern span should simply be replaced.

A small portion of the old steel cantilever bridge trusses were supplied to area artists and architects to live on in sculptural and structural pieces around the Bay Area.

The new eastern span—a self-anchored suspension bridge joined with a skyway viaduct—took a total of 15 years from first designs to completion. The bridge replacement costs came to a reported $6.4 billion.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Caltrans; Demolition; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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