Construction work on Bay Bridge moving smoothly

August 31, 2013 5:30:44 PM PDT
Construction work on the Bay Bridge is still moving smoothly. Caltrans says there are no hiccups to report so far, with the bridge's reopening on schedule for 5 a.m. Tuesday at the latest.

Most of Saturday's work focused on demolition of the old approach to make way for a bicycle and pedestrian path. It was one of three main projects crews were focused on Saturday.

We're more than halfway through the Bay Bridge closure. Roughly 500 people are working around the clock and progressing steadily for Tuesday's scheduled opening of the new eastern span.

"At the toll plaza, all grinding is complete," Bay Bridge spokesperson Andrew Gordon said. "They are paving asphalt. That work is ongoing and will be ongoing for the next 24 hours, and they have begun striping on the westbound lanes heading into the toll plaza."

Once the asphalt is dry, striping will begin at 6 a.m. Sunday, working westbound incrementally toward Yerba Buena Island.

Crews spent a portion of Saturday inside the island's tunnel, cleaning it with hot water to remove years of soot and exhaust build-up, and replacing old lights with new LED lights.

Closer to the metering lights, a 1,000-foot-long portion of the bridge's old westbound deck was demolished.

"This is necessary in order to install a temporary access to the bike and pedestrian path that will take folks out from Oakland, just past the tower of the new bridge," said John Goodwin with the Bay Area Toll Authority.

The temporary wooden bike and pedestrian path will go in early Sunday morning. And will be open to the public by noon Tuesday. All of the steel and concrete destroyed for the path will be processed and recycled locally. But first, crews are being careful to remove and separate toxic portions.

"It's pretty complicated because the paint that's on the beams is lead, so we have to control the access, we have to supply proper safety equipment and monitor, and then cut each beam out at a time. It's pretty complex," said Greg Allen, a project manager with MCM Construction.

As soon as traffic hits the new Bay Bridge, contractors will begin assessing the old s-curve and cantilever sections to begin demolishing that as soon as possible.

And while Caltrans says there's nothing they've encountered that would endanger the Tuesday morning opening, they warn against planning for an early opening.

"If we have the ability to open the bridge early, I think it's safe to say we'll look for that opportunity," Gordon said. "But we don't' want people to plan their weekend travel on a crystal ball guess at this point. Things are looking good, but we are not at a point where we can say we're opening the bridge early."

Commuters are taking advantage of BART this weekend. On Saturday, stations and trains were packed like a normal weekday; though Friday was not your normal commute. BART saw its fourth highest ridership ever. Officials with the transit agency say over 457,000 people rode BART on Friday. That's just one day after more than 475,000 people took BART on Thursday. Trains will continue running overnight through the holiday weekend until Tuesday morning.

Ferries were also packed on Saturday. There's expanded service to help with extra passengers heading across the bay. There's also extra service to Angel Island through the holiday weekend.

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


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