Bay Bridge project hits possible snag

September 5, 2009 6:30:13 PM PDT
The Bay Bridge project may have hit a bit of a snag. Four-and-a-half hours after crews began moving in a massive new span of the bridge Saturday it was still not in place. Caltrans had previously said that part of the project would only take about four hours.

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As of 4:00 p.m. it was only about three-quarters of the way there.

Crews started moving it at around 11:30 Saturday morning. No one would say exactly why it was taking longer than expected, but they did say as long as they get it in place by approximately midnight, they would still be in good shape.

"We're going to be very precise and slow, and so the technicians are working on the skid jacks rail system making sure the path is exact for the piece to travel," Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney said.

It is a 3,600-ton, crucial piece of the puzzle. It will connect the Bay Bridge span to the new S-shaped approach to the Treasure Island tunnel. This will act as a temporary detour for the next four years and the placement of the portion needs to be exact.

Cranes, towers and beams have been holding it in place. The goal is to slide the double deck piece into the right spot and make only minor adjustments afterwards. Caltrans did the exact opposite job Friday when they removed the old portion of the bridge.

That took crews longer than expected.

"I mean, you're freeing a truss that's been sitting there for 70 years. That's a tough thing to do. Very complicated, you got to go step A, then step B, then step C," said Caltrans resident engineer Bill Casey. "Go slow and do it safe."

Caltrans managed to make up time after that delay. Now, they say they are back on schedule which is good news for San Francisco businesses like Perry's on the Embarcadero. The close proximity to the bridge and the views are usually a big draw, but on Saturday only one couple sat in the restaurant's normally packed patio.

"We're probably going to lose some coming over the bridge but you never know. Maybe we'll get others coming from different directions," said Perry's manager Aldy Butler.

Even though Butler is hopeful, he planned ahead for the bridge closure by cutting back on staffing this weekend.

One interesting thing to note, the bridge work requires lubricating many of gears and joints. Some would think engineers would use some sort of specialized oil or grease. Instead, they are using dishwashing soap. They say that is what works best.

The bridge is expected to open Tuesday at 5:00 a.m.

East Bay BART stations open 24 hours:
Concord
El Cerrito del Norte
Walnut Creek
Downtown Berkeley
MacArthur
Oakland City Center
Bay Fair
Coliseum/Oakland Airport
Dublin/Pleasanton

SF and Peninsula BART stations open 24 hours: Embarcadero
Powell Street
24th Street Mission
Daly City
SFO Airport

MORE:

Watch our live web cam of the Bay Bridge Labor Day weekend construction.

For more information about the Bay Bridge closure during the Labor Day weekend, check out our resources page.

For transit options, visit www.511.org/baybridge

For the latest on the Bay Bridge construction project, visit baybridgeinfo.org

Follow updates on the bridge closure on Twitter at twitter.com/BayBridgeInfo

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