Towering cranes pass under Bay Area bridges

A ship carrying three new container cranes passed under the Golden Gate Bridge Tuesday morning.

March 16, 2010 11:35:28 AM PDT
Three new giant container cranes are set to arrive at the Port of Oakland, after journeying under two Bay Area bridges Tuesday morning.

The cranes first crossed under the Golden Gate Bridge around 8:30, then they went under the Bay Bridge with a tight clearance. Traffic slowed to watch the impressive engineering feat.

The cranes are 253 feet tall. They had to be folded over to pass under the bridges and wait for the lowest tide.

The delivery of the new cranes did not go off without a hitch, the ships 8 a.m. appointment with the Golden Gate Bridge became 8:15 then 8:30 and there was talk the tide might be rising, or maybe a swell would have the top of the crane scrape the bottom of the bridge, but that never happened -- it was smooth sailing because of all the planning.

"There was close coordination between the CHP, Coast Guard, the shipping folks, as well as the Port of Oakland, and GPS on top of the cranes. The measurements were done and the tides were low. I think we had more then the 5 to 10 feet we had anticipated," said Golden Gate Br. spokesperson Mary Currie.

"It was neat. I thought I would bring my son out. We wanted to see just how close it would actually come. It didn't come as close as we thought it would, but it was neat nonetheless," said San Francisco resident Perry Jackson.

Then it was on to the Bay Bridge, where the situation was decidedly different. A San Francisco CHP spokesperson said there was three feet of clearance between the top of the cranes and the bottom of the deck. The CHP ran a traffic break from the point on the bridge from which the ship passed under. It was done in case something went wrong, collateral damage would be minimal. It also helped to keep rubberneckers from watching the cranes. But when it was all said and done, it was done perfectly.

It's not the first time such accurate shipping has been done in the bay, but every time it's done, there's that element of suspense, as in, what if someone miscalculated something, but that has never happened.

The cranes are going to be used for the new cargo ships that will be used at the Port of Oakland.


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