If you have driven the Bay Bridge lately, you have probably noticed the giant crane parked next to it. It just completed its first assignment, lifting a 1,200-ton piece of scaffolding into place.
"This crane was built for this job. There was no crane of this size anywhere in the world we could get at this timeframe to build this bridge," says Bay Bridge public information officer Bart Ney.
The custom-built crane barge, named "The West Coast Lifter," passed under the old Bay Bridge when it arrived from China in March. Now it's helping build the new one. Two more pieces of scaffolding like the one lifted Friday are sitting at Pier 7 and will be put in place over the next couple of weeks.
Iron workers are connecting the structure to supporting towers, but the entire structure is temporary. Once the temporary bridge is done, sections of roadbed will be placed on top of it until the single tower is built and the two can be connected with cables.
"The cables that hold the suspension bridge together anchor back into the deck, so the deck has to be put in first and in order to do that, we have to have all this temporary work here to hold the deck up," said Ney.
This is the busiest year for new bridge construction. The section of road connecting land with the completed part of the new bridge will be done in a couple months. And this fall, the section of temporary double-deck detour bridge will slide into place after a section of the old bridge is cut out.
"The island is where a lot of work is happening. We are going to be closing the bridge this year over Labor Day weekend for four days while we cut out a double-deck section of the bridge, roll a new section in," said Ney. "So the CC Myers crews are working 20-hour shifts right now, seven days a week,"
The target date for completion of the entire new eastern span is 2013.