Caltrans "very pleased" with Bay Bridge progress

August 29, 2013 11:49:22 PM PDT
Less than 24 hours after the Bay Bridge closed to traffic, a Caltrans spokesperson told reporters Thursday afternoon that they are "very pleased" with how work on the Bay Bridge is progressing and that work is on schedule. Grinding, paving and demolition work will continue on the bridge Thursday evning and into Friday.

Work on getting the new eastern span ready for traffic has been underway since moments after the bridge closed last night. Grinding and paving is exactly what it sounds like. Crews around the toll plaza are taking the asphalt down anywhere from two to six inches lower and then paving it to put in a new drainage system.

One thousand feet of the original westbound approach of the bridge is currently being demolished.

"The demolition on this side, we're right on track," said Greg Allen with MCM Construction. "We've got 90 percent of the deck knocked loose and we've removed probably about 17 beams from the structure."

"After this work is completed they're going to put in about a 600 foot temporary bike path connector that's going to allow us to open up the bike path and the pedestrian path to the public at noon on Tuesday," Caltrans spokesperson Andrew Gordon said.

A thin protective coating is being put down on the roads entering and leaving the tunnel to create a smooth driving surface.

"The key thing here is construction is going very well," Gordon said. "We're on schedule and the work that started last night at 8 p.m. -- the demolition, the grinding, and paving -- that's what we're going to be seeing for the next 24 hours. And we don't see anything ahead of else that we think will cause us to think that we're going to be pushed off schedule."

At peak times there are 400 workers on the bridge, working in shifts 24-hours a day, aiming for the scheduled Tuesday 5am opening.

Caltrans wasting no time demolishing old span

With the race on to open the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, Caltrans is also wasting no time starting demolition of the old one.

Brian Maroney is in charge of taking the old span apart -- a task that's tougher than it sounds. The 80-year-old steel is covered in lead paint, so they can't just drop it in the bay. It's rusted and brittle, an entirely different material from the steel we use today.

"You cannot weld on most of this steel; you can only put rivets or bolts in it," Maroney said.

But Caltrans has found a way to demolish the old bridge -- one piece at a time, starting from the middle and working their way out.

"We are going to dismantle the bridge essentially opposite of the way they put it together," Caltrnas bridge engineer Mike Whiteside said.

Some of the steel parts will be recycled, but some will stick around for old time's sake, either in a museum or in a park to commemorate the old bridge.

Commuters find their way around Bay Area without bridge

BART is a popular alternative for commuters who typically use the Bay Bridge. BART officials say Wednesday was their busiest day ever, with ridership at 427,554. From midnight to 10 a.m. Thursday, ridership was at 161,166. They say it's an increase of 30,682 compared to the same morning last year.

BART is operating trains around the clock while the bridge is closed. Fourteen different BART stations have trains running once an hour, day and night. All of those trains meet at MacArthur station. Several people told us Thursday they only have to worry about it for the day, because they have Friday off.

AC Transit is running extra buses for service to four East Bay BART stations. This includes West Oakland, MacArthur, Coliseum and North Berkeley.

There are additional ferries crossing the bay as well. They're carrying about 15 percent more passengers than usual, on special schedules.

The San Francisco Bay Ferry service reported a 57 percent increase in ridership Thursday morning.

Bay Bridge Troll

The Bay Bridge troll will have a home on the new bridge. The troll is mounted on the side of the old bridge and its was fate uncertain until Thursday.

It was welded on by workers repairing the bridge after the 1989 earthquake and it's supposed to be a lucky charm against natural disasters.

Caltrans told ABC7 News that the troll will absolutely have a home on the new bridge.

If you have to drive during the shutdown, download ABC7's exclusive Waze traffic app to get around the gridlock.


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