Catwalks erected on new Bay Bridge tower

July 8, 2011 7:17:16 PM PDT
If you've driven near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge lately, you've probably couldn't help but notice a lot of work going on the new span, including two orange things hanging off the tower.

The two reddish-orange strips hanging from the west side of the new Bay Bridge tower are 12-foot-wide catwalks. Eventually, workers will walk on the steeply-angled ramps, installing a mile-long suspension cable that will wrap around the new bridge's hallmark tower reaching more than 500 feet above sea level.

"It is a 35-degree angle, but our workers are skilled and trained, experienced and know what they're doing," said Margena Wade with Caltrans.

The catwalks now sit about four feet below where the new cable will hang. A curved section of metal below the catwalk will route the cable to where it needs to go.

"There is an apparatus they're going to use to feed the cable through the footprint it needs to go in," Wade said. "It's a humongous thing."

Workers, who are no stranger to working at altitude, will be tethered to the catwalks as they work.

The cable on the new bridge will be one un-spliced mile of 137 bundles of cable, each bundle holding 127 small cables. In a warehouse near the bridge, the bundles of cable, each one mile long, sit waiting underneath blue tarps.

Two more catwalks still need to be installed on the eastern side of the tower, and work on putting the cable in place should begin sometime next year.

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