BERKELEY (KCBS) — Some local historians and bridge workers are getting a bit sentimental on what they call the “end of an era” as the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge gets set to open.

Ever since the new span was in the works, the Regional Oral History Office of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley has been collecting interesting stories from people who worked on the old eastern span.

Richard Mooradian is a steel worker who spent his career on the bridge.

“I’m going to hate when this one comes down because I really like it,” Mooradian said. “It’s something that I went across when I was a kid even. And I’ve worked here, I’ve got to touch it, I’ve got to climb on it. I’ve been out here for everything, and it’s going to go. And now we’re going to have a masterpiece, which it’s going to be, a beautiful bridge when it’s all said and done, but I’m going to miss this.”

Richard Walker is a professor emeritus at UC Berkeley who specializes in California history. He said there’s nothing wrong with romanticizing what has long been seen as an ugly old workhorse.

“For me and my generation, it was what we called erector sets. That later became Legos. But it was something we grew up on,” said Walker. “It was kids who wanted to be engineers who might start playing with that stuff when they were young. It was those metal pieces that looked like a cantilever bridge. So it does have symbolic value.”

The project was launched in May 2012 and at that time, ROHO entered into an agreement with the Oakland Museum of California to conduct about 15 oral histories, totaling about 30 hours of interviews, on the history of the Bay Bridge, the San Francisco Bay and bridges in the surrounding area.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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