Steel from old Bay Bridge to be scrapped, re-purposed as artwork

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - With the old Bay Bridge cantilever section all but gone, demolition of the rest of the bridge is about to begin.

While some of the metal is being scrapped and melted down for other uses, some is being given to artists for a very special purpose.

On Wednesday morning, the Oakland Museum of California posted application forms on its website for artists to ask for free steel from the rapidly disappearing old eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

"The museum was actually named in the original Memorandum of Understanding for the demolition of the bridge for potentially receiving steel," says Lori Fogarty, Director of the Oakland Museum of California.

To that end, the museum has recruited a highly qualified eight member committee to approve or disapprove the proposals.

"They're people who have a great amount of expertise in a number of different areas including public art, the history of the bridge, structural engineering, landscape architecture, and architecture in the public realm," says Leslie Pritchett, Administrator of the Bay Bridge Steel Program.

There are four requirements:

1. "It has to be destined for public space. It's a public asset, a very important public asset, and it will remain a public asset but in a new and re-crafted form," says Pritchett.

2. The projects must celebrate or raise interest of the importance of the bridge as an iconic or historical structure.

3. Artists will be responsible for funding the art work itself

4. To secure a public display space

"One of the most fabulous things is that we don't yet know what artists or creative people are going to come up with," said Pritchett.

What's left of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge is where the metal for the artists will come from - 450 tons of it. But I can assure you, what's still standing contains tens of thousands of tons of steel.

"We've approximated maybe 30 semi truckloads of steel," estimates Pritchett. That is also the weight of a fully fueled and loaded intercontinental jumbo jet .

If the art steel were scrapped, it would be worth about $2.2 million and come back as recycled consumer goods.

What's donated should educate and entertain generations to come.