Bay Bridge remnant resonates physically -- and literally

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It sits on the edge of Treasure Island. A 22-ton steel ring in fourteen riveted sections with a light sitting on top.

"It's bigger than a pole but smaller than a tower," said sculpturer Tom Loughlin, "But the light is authentic. It came from a truss span of the old Bay Bridge."

And now, this is what remains: A sculpture, not to be confused with a UFO, and now public art as sanctioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission, The Oakland Museum of California, and Cal Trans.

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"They gave me the steel for free. The rest, privately funded."

Twelve other awardees received steel, as well.

The 50 year-old Loughlin grew up in St. Louis, moved to Berkeley in 1993, and like the rest of us, considered the old Bay Bridge to be more a source of frustration than inspiration.

"I did think it had an interesting beauty to it because it was so un-ornamented."

Not anymore.

The structure rests in full view of the San Francisco skyline and the still-existent suspension span of the Bay Bridge.

It is hardly inert. Four electric motors inside replicate its old resonant frequency.

"Those used to be a concerns, the resonant frequencies," Loughlin said.

Again, not anymore.

That light atop the tower, or pole, shines 24 hours a day, but you'll need to squint to see it in sunshine. The entire apparatus is powered by underground electric lines.

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"We have this spot for five years. We're renting the land from the Navy," said Loughlin, who also points out that he still owns the piece and intends to keep it that way "Unless someone wants to buy it."

"We're in low six figures for budget and there are ongoing maintenance costs," he noted.

"But you didn't name a price?"

"No. Well. If you have to ask."

Suffice to say that the original Bay Bridge cost $250 million.

By contrast, this would be a steal.

And, it won't collapse in an earthquake.
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