Crews prepare to take down old Bay Bridge span

August 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's just 18-days until the new Bay Bridge opens to traffic. We are promised it is far more earthquake safe than the cantilever span it replaces. That old section will begin to come down just as soon the new one opens.

Back in the 1930s when they first built the Bay Bridge, both spans cost a total of $77 million. So what do think it will cost to knock down just the eastern span, 70 inflationary years later -- $300 million.

Easy come, easy go. New begets old.

They say we're a disposing society. But when it comes to bridges, we're apparently still sentimental. Especially in the case of the eastern span's active last days.

"We were just videotaping saying this is probably gonna be our last time over the bridge," one person said.

Eastern span we knew you so well, maybe too well. And a week and a half from now, pictures of the span will be just as historic as those from its construction in the midst of the Great Depression.

The entire Bay Bridge took three years to build. The eastern span will take three years to tear down. And not easily, according to Bay Bridge spokesperson Andrew Gordon.

"It's going to be very complicated," he said.

The deconstruction, if you want to call it that, will take place in three different sections simultaneously by three contractors. They will work top to bottom, right down to the mud. Strangely enough, in the cantilever section, the first piece they take off is likely to be the last one they put on.

They are actually studying how the original east span was built so they can actually take it apart in reverse order," Gordon said.

Standard practice, actually. It's the same way workmen pulled down the Carquinez Bridge between 2005 and 2007.

With the Bay Bridge there will be environmental concerns such as lead paint on the steel, gasoline on the roadbed, none of it may fall into the bay.

As to what might remain, spokesperson Randy Rentscher said, "We want to leave a little for history."

He showed one possibility through artist renderings -- a park in place of an approach, maybe a nice memorial or a pier.


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