Demolition to begin on Bay Bridge old span

MIKE KOOZMIN/2013 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTOBay Bridge officials said a suicide deterrent structure was not determined as a requirement at the time the new span design was approved.

Since the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge opened Labor Day weekend, crews have been working to begin demolishing the former structure. The public can expect to see some sections removed starting next week.

With staging and preparation, a couple of inches of asphalt from the upper deck of the cantilever have already been removed, said Bay Bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon. Now the real demolition can begin. Within six weeks, 1,400 feet of the upper deck of the cantilever will be no more.

“There will certainly be some noise,” Gordon said. “[Crews] will be working the usual daytime hours.”

The complete dismantling is expected to take three years and total $239 million. A team of engineers used modern-day technology to map the old span’s configuration in 3-D. They determined the bridge, because it is under high tension like a bow and arrow, will have to be torn down in reverse of the way it was constructed, starting from the middle of the cantilever and working outward.

Demolition has been divided into three parts: the cantilever section and S-curve, smaller trusses and the foundation. Aside from safeguarding the Bay from toxic materials like lead paint, engineers say the meticulous process is a testament to the old span’s sophisticated design, completed eight decades ago.

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