Engineers Prepare to “Unbuild” Old Bay Bridge East Span

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Less than 24 hours ago, traffic was rolling across the Bay Bridge, but Thursday -- as commuters found another way around  -- it was filled with construction crews racing against the clock to get the new Eastern Span ready to open.

Among the work: Deconstructing the original westbound approach to the bridge to make way for a bike path connector and putting in a protective polyester overlay near the tunnel so drivers can have a smooth ride through.

But, while construction takes place on the new span, deconstruction must happen on the old one.

“This is almost like a giant, complex Tinker Toy set,” said Andrew Gordon, Bay Bridge spokesman.

Tearing the old bridge apart will be no easy task. The half-mile-long cantilever is made of some 50-million pounds of steel.

Engineers have been studying how the bridge was put together 80 years ago to help them.

“We're looking at how it was built so we can basically, for lack of a better term, unbuild it and reverse that order,” said Brian Maroney, Caltrans Chief Engineer.

But, for now, the focus is on the new bridge, and so far things are right on schedule.

It is expected to take about three years to deconstruct the old bridge. Caltrans says it will start to remove large chunks of the old span in March.

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