Caltrans explains Bay Bridge project

September 23, 2008 7:28:55 PM PDT
Part of preparing for the next quake is replacing the eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Construction is moving along, and a lot of people who drive it are starting to wonder exactly what they're seeing.

So Caltrans brought the media out for a good look.

Caltrans is now working on closing the gap between Yerba Buena Island and the already-finished portion of the new Bay Bridge.

Once it's finished, it will be the world's tallest Self-anchored or single tower suspension bridge. But getting finishing it requires about five more years and giant temporary structures, one on the north side of the existing bridge.

Caltrans has to build a temporary bridge to support the new road-bed, until the tower and single suspension cable that goes with it are built.

"And we have to put these in place because this bridge is self-anchored, and that means the main cable that holds the bridge up connects into the road you drive on and not into the ground like the Golden Gate or the west spans of the Bay Bridge," said Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney.

A Caltrans animation shows how the road bed will be laid down as the temporary structures march across the water. Then when the tower and cable are in place, the steel supports disappear.

"All the steel will get taken down, kept by the contractor and either used for other projects or recycled," said

So right now there are really three bridges just east of Yerba Buena Island. The temporary structures for the new bridge on the north, the existing bridge and the temporary bypass on the south -- that's a detour that will be used for a few years while the new bridge is finished.

Caltrans wants to remind us someday all but the sleek new bridge will be gone.

"There was such an effort to determine that yes, we want to build this bridge, that we want to make sure that the public understands that what they' about to see is part of the process of building the bridge, not the bridge itself," said Ney.

Caltrans has one more total bridge closure planned for next year.

Click here to learn more about the Bay Bridge construction project.


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