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OAKLAND (CBS SF)— Caltrans officials said on Monday that work will begin soon on a key part of the demolition of the 77-year-old original east span of the Bay Bridge.
Demolition work began last September after the new eastern span was opened to traffic and won’t be completed for another three to five years.
Caltrans spokesman Andrew Gordon said that workers will soon start cutting and separating the cantilever section at the middle of the old span.
Once the cantilever is separated at its center, the contractor will begin removing steel beams, Gordon said.
The span’s two 412-foot-long cantilever arms are connected by a 576-foot-long suspended span and Caltrans originally planned to take down one arm at a time, he said.
But Gordon said Caltrans now plans to take both arms down at the same time in order to save time so that the demolition work can get back on schedule.
He said it will cost an extra $12.67 million to hire more workers to work on both sections at the same time but Caltrans hopes that that money could be recouped in the long term by shortening the schedule for the demolition work.
Standing on a plank placed on a table, he illustrated the inherent challenges and care needed in removing a cantilevered weight.
Caltrans chief bridge engineer Brian Maroney said that in a month people will notice a gap in the cantilever section because some panels will be gone. He also offered a pizza to whoever takes the best photo of the gap, recreating (in reverse) the famous moment in 1936 when the bridge was joined.
Maroney said there will be much larger gaps in the cantilever section this summer and “you won’t be able to miss it.”
Gordon said Caltrans hopes that all the work on dismantling the cantilever section will be completed by the spring of 2016.
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