The demolition of the eastern portion of the Bay Bridge has something in common with the new span that is replacing it — the project will take longer than originally estimated.
It will cost $244 million and take between five and seven years to remove the 75-year-old span of the Bay Bridge that connects Yerba Buena Island to Oakland, according to new projections.
The original two-year timeline for the demolition was a very preliminary projection, according to Bart Ney, spokesman for Caltrans. The complexity of the plan — notably dismantling the cantilever segment — calls for a time-consuming project.
“It’s basically like taking down a two-mile-long, three-story steel building,” Ney said.
Because the structure of the existing eastern span contains several hazardous materials, notably 75 years of lead paint, the demolished segments cannot just rest on the Bay floor.
It is now expected that demolition will need three phases, with the first part starting in late 2013, when the cantilever superstructure of the eastern span is removed. A contract for that removal will go out to bid this spring and is expected to be approved by summer, so demolition of the cantilever segment can begin “within days” of the new eastern span’s opening date in late 2013, said John Goodwin, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agency that manages the Bay Bridge.
Once the cantilever is removed, crews will take down the steel trusses that compose the bulk of the existing eastern span. Last, the foundation pilings of the bridge will be uprooted, completing the demolition project, Goodwin said.
While the project is under way, massive trestles will be set up at the site to collect the abandoned materials, which will be hauled off to the mainland.
The rebuilding of the bridge’s eastern span has been consistently hampered by cost and timeline revisions.
When groundbreaking on the new eastern span began in 2002, state officials projected it would open in 2007, six years earlier than now anticipated. At that time, the project was expected to cost $1.5 billion, a price tag that has since risen to $6.3 billion.
On Thursday, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission will vote on whether to authorize a permit for the demolition. An original permit was approved in 2001, but the project — and its timeline — has changed drastically since then, requiring an amended permit approval.