OAKLAND, Calif. (BCN) - A planned series of implosions of the old support pillars of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge, began in earnest today to return that part of the Bay bottom to its original condition.
With Bay Bridge traffic halted in both directions for a few minutes, just after 10 30, this morning, two eighty-year old, under water bridge piers, were pulverized by 50 pounds of high energy, low pollution explosives.
"The initial take how well the operation was that it was very successful. We'll continue to monitor the area over the next couple of hours. Later in the day we'll be able to go in and do a sonar read of the actual demolition work. But from the surface everything looked an appeared to go successfully today," said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.
A big part of that success was Caltrans keeping its solemn promise not to harm wildlife, a promise under the watchful eyes of the Marine Mammal Center and other environmentalists ready to rescue and rehabilitate any injured animal.
"There has not been any sort of injuries with many marine mammals in the past implosions. So, we're hoping to keep that streak going. but, just in case, we're here," said Veterinarian Dr. Abby McClain of the Marine Mammal Center.
When all the underwater piers and their debris is removed, The Bay will have undergone significant restoration.
"The tidal flow, in and out, will restore the Bay and the Bay bottom as it was when there was nothing there before," said Caltrans Director Dougherty.
Eight remaining pillars on the Oakland side on one giant pillar on the Yerba Buena island side may or may not be removed. "If they remain in place, they will be used for a public purpose such as a fishing pier or a viewing pier, otherwise the expectation may be that they come out," sid Dougherty.
Assuming everything else goes according to plan, this will happen every other weekend until some time in November when all of the old piers are gone.
But that depends solely on one thing: that wildlife cooperate.