Last visible piece of old Bay Bridge coming down Tuesday

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The Bay Bridge reached its next to last milestone Tuesday when the last of the trusses, representing the last of the steel structure was barged away. 

The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge now has its final intended look and folks crossing it, who look south, will have a clear view.

As the last truss was disconnected from its base, lowered onto a massive double barge and tugged to where it will be scrapped - all but one key phase of the bridge replacement and demolition was done.

Caltrans Chief Bridge Engineer, whose worked on the project the better part of three decades, still marvels at how well the bridge was designed and built in the non-high tech days of  paper, pencil and slide rules. "You start to feel like you know some of them. You climb inside their minds and you see the tools that they had," said Brian Maroney, Caltrans Chief Bridge Engineer.

It took all of three years to deconstruct the 100 million pounds of steel beams, plates, bars, bolts and rivets that was the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge with virtually no damage to the Bay habitat.

"Everything that needed to happen in terms of preservation and valuing all of the wildlife in the Bay, that we absolutely did that," said Leah Rosinson-Leach, the Bay Bridge Project spokesperson.

All that's left on the Bay Bridge Project now is to remove the 13 piers that once held the bridge up and their underwater supports. Once that's done, the Bay floor will return to the same condition that it was in the 1930's when the original construction began. "By the end of 2017, we will be out of the Bay," said Robinson-Leach.

The bicycle path, open on weekends and holidays only, will soon assume a much bigger role. "We're incredibly excited that this summer, it appears as if that we will be open on weekdays," said Robinson-Leach.

A thousand tons of the steel, two million pounds, has been set aside for the Bay Bridge Steel Art Project.

"Fifteen projects have been awarded steel from the old Bay Bridge and we're in the process now of getting organized to distribute it to them so they can begin building their projects," said Leslie Pritchett, the Bay Bridge Steel Art Administrator. The goal is to carry the bridge's legacy into the future through art projects around the state. "The uses for the steel are amazingly creative. There's a broad range from landscape architecture firms who are working on large projects to individual artists who are working on much smaller undertakings," said Pritchett.

Artists must find the public sites for the art and pay for the artworks' creation over the next months and years.