Countdown to new Bay Bridge continues


The clock in the Caltrans Bay Bridge construction office counts down relentlessly. But Labor Day Weekend 2013 wasn't always the target for opening the entire new bridge; originally the plan called for opening the westbound side first, followed by the eastbound side in 2014. The problem was, there was simply not enough room to build the new roadway in the foot print of the old where it touches down in Oakland

But engineers solved that problem and lopped nine months off the original eastbound schedule.

"Early on we're always looking for ways to improve the job, find a way to get it open faster because it is a seismic safety job," Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney said. "So our engineers they took a risk, put the contract down and now moving forward with it quickly."

The tricky Oakland touchdown is where a lot of work is going on right now. The foundations of the old westbound bridge have been knocked down to make way for the new eastbound deck.

The plywood forms of the deck are going up fast, getting ready for concrete to be poured in the next couple weeks.

For anyone hoping to get a boats-eye view of work on the section of bridge with the tower, Caltrans has a warning -- it's dangerous.

"We've got extra patrols; so you should know, the Coast Guard, the CHP is underneath the bridge right now, because so much work is going on that span that goes across from the skyway to the island, so please do go under the self-anchored suspension bridge while we're lifting 35,200 tons of steel," Ney said.

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