Permanent section of Bay Bridge span lifted into place

February 3, 2010 7:06:50 PM PST
By now, Bay Area residents have grown accustomed to continuing construction of the new Bay Bridge.

If we stand back and add perspective, every day is historic, offering a one-time freeze-frame of a bridge-in-process. As 1930's era construction photographs of the Golden Gate and old Bay Bridge fascinate us, now, so will such views of the new bridge for generations to come.

Wednesday, Caltrans made a hard sell for this being a big step in its construction history.

"This is that moment. It's iconic. The first piece of the self-anchored suspension span going into place," Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said, as he led a boat filled with reporters and photographers to a vantage point beneath the bridge.

For once, he did not have to discuss eyebars, S-curves, crashes or closures.

The new piece weighs 1,020 tons, is nearly 84 feet long and 90 feet wide and is much smaller than those to follow. Wednesday morning, a crane lifted it from a barge onto the span's temporary steel structure and crews began jacking it into place. Much larger pieces will follow.

When construction finishes and it opens to west-bound traffic in 2013, the new bridge's self-anchored suspension section will be the largest of its kind in the world, stretching 2,047 feet long beneath a single, 525 foot tower.

So, the next time you drive the bridge, take a quick look to the north as you pass Yerba Buena Island. That's history out there, a fluid, changing, one-of-a-kind moment for a structure that, after 2013, will go decades without changing.

Or so we will hope, an estimated 6.2 billion dollars later.