By Wilson Walker

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Caltrans is on — perhaps even ahead of — schedule with its replacement of the Highway 101 / Alemany Blvd. overpass. The job was moved up several months to take advantage of reduced traffic loads during the ongoing shelter-in-place. What was originally supposed to be an 18-day project could now be finished in fewer than 10 but that does mean some changes are ahead for drivers.

“We successfully demolished the deck last night,” said Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney, standing beside the removed freeway deck.

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Taking advantage of the shutdown-reduced traffic, an army of workers is racing ahead to complete a full replacement of the overpass. The northbound bridge deck is already taking shape.

“We’ve been designing this project for years,” Ney said. “The deck on the Alemany overpass here is over 70 years old.”

The only answer for freeways of this age is a full replacement of the road deck.

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“We’re going to start pouring concrete tonight, Saturday night,” Ney explained. “When it’s ready, we’re going to open up that K rail, the temporary barrier, and we’re going to bring that southbound traffic over on to what is the northbound structure. This will all be done, and then it will ‘S’ back to the southbound alignment.”

As far as highway repairs go, this one is on a significant scale, at tremendous speed. C.C. Myers, renowned for several famed Bay Area mega-projects, is onsite to make sure his team beats the clock.

Caltrans is still looking for opportunities presented by the shutdown.

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“The Alemany project is probably the biggest example of that,” Ney says. “But where we can, we are looking at maintenance operations that we can get done during this time and other construction projects. If we can get all the parts together, get them done, so when people are ready to come back and we’re expecting traffic to surge back up, these things are out of the way.”