West Coast's largest barge arrives in bay

March 12, 2009 7:04:11 PM PDT
A giant crane built specifically for the job arrived from China. It's an important milestone in the new Bay Bridge project.

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The 328-foot tall crane was collapsed for its one-month voyage from china.

The Left Coast Lifter crane barge was built to handle the heavy lifting on the new Bay Bridge project and it will do that heavy lifting while floating on the bay.

"Over 1,800 tons on the water and that's saying something. You're going to see it in a couple months," said Bart Ney from Caltrans.

The crane barge will lift pieces of steel needed to build the world's tallest self-anchored suspension bridge.

The barge portion was built in Oregon, the crane was built and attached to the barge in China. The red transport ship is designed especially for delivering this kind of crane barge.

"What happens is the transport ship is over 750-feet long and it can subside, submerge a good 21 feet and it will so that the barge becomes buoyant and we can pull it off with tugs," said Ney.

It will be unloaded in about a week and begin work in a month.

The barge has no power -- tugboats will have to position it when it needs to be moved. When it's at work lifting, a series of anchors are required to stabilize it.

"2009 is a really big year for construction on the Bay Bridge. We're going to start erecting the self-anchored suspension bridge we have the tool to do that now, and then other things we will be doing is putting that detour so that we can take traffic off of Yerba Buena Island, so that we can bring this bridge right into the tunnel," said Ney.

Sometime later this year, the bridge will be closed again, so traffic can be diverted onto a temporary detour just east of the Yerba Buena Tunnel. That will allow the new bridge to be finished. The target date for completion is 2013.

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