OAKLAND (CBS SF) — After two months of delay, demolition of the 1930s-era eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge began on Tuesday.

The demolition was delayed because state bridge officials were focused on getting the $6.4 billion replacement span open over the Labor Day weekend.

Brian Maroney, a California Department of Transportation bridge engineer, said taking the old bridge down is a delicate and complicated task.

Crews conducting the $281-million demolition will first dismantle the old bridge’s trusses, deck and piers that are closest to the new span, allowing the new bridge’s bike and pedestrian path to be completed.

In all, about seven million tons of asphalt, concrete and steel will be removed.

Prep work has been underway for two months to scrap the old cantilever-bridge section.

“Work that starts today is the removal of 1,400 feet of the upper roadway of the east span. That work’s going to take about six weeks,” said Andrew Gordon from Caltrans.

In the first phase, concrete, reinforcing bars and steel-floor beams will be removed. The concrete will be taken to a local recycler at the Port of Oakland.

Gordon said that work was delayed for a week because the contractor needed a debris containment system in place.

There are also environmental factors that come into play with the demolition and clean up since lead paint was used in the old span of the bridge as well as the oil and gas that spilled in its decades of use.

While the work is underway boats are not allowed to travel underneath the section of the bridge that is being removed. By the end of 2016 the original bridge span will be completely gone all the way to the mud line.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)


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