A clearer view for Bay Bridge drivers as demolition continues

Drivers along the Bay Bridge will soon have a better view coming into Oakland. Crews began removing huge sections of the old bridge on Thursday. It’s a major demolition project to remove the visual obstruction that has blocked driver’s view to the south.

Though the bridge’s new span has been in use for two-and-a-half years, taking the old one down has been a work in progress.

Work crews jacked up the first of five old span trusses, each 500-feet long, weighing 2,500 tons. It will be lowered onto a barge some time Friday.

At the Port of Oakland, the trusses will be cut up for recycling except for 300 tons.

"In terms of the super steel structures, part of the steel will be used for the Oakland Museum of California’s art program," said Leah Robinson-Leach, a Bay Bridge Project spokeswoman.

Artists will create all manner of public art as part of the old bridge's legacy.

After the five big trusses are gone, the smaller, 300-foot trusses will be taken down. While that happens, the support piers that held them up will be removed— the biggest ones likely by implosions as we saw three months ago.

"We're certainly looking at the best timing in later this year. As you know, November was the best time previously for the environmental aspects of the operation,” said Robinson-Leach.

Later this year final construction on the new span's access points will be completed.

"Extending the bike path, later this summer, that additional 1,200 feet that is necessary in order to get it to YB [Yerba Buena] Island, and also, the opening of the Yerba Buena Island ramps," said Robinson-Leach.

Except for some landscaping and other finish work, the new span will be finished.

"We stand steadfast in our communication that this bridge is safe," Robinson-Leach said.

So, when will the Bay Bridge Project finally be done totally and completely?  Final demolition should be done in about three years. 

In all, it will have taken 30 years, an entire generation and some say, way too many politics, to replace a bridge damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake back in 1989.