The phrases “ahead of schedule” and “under budget” are not ones we are used to hearing with regards to the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge and the demolition of the old eastern span. But Caltrans is happy to announce that the destruction of the final remnants of the previous Bay Bridge namely, 13 concrete pier “bridge foundations” that are now just useless little cement islands in the Bay will indeed be completed a full year before they’d originally planned, and at a cool $10 million below projected cost.
“We’ll be imploding piers every other weekend for the next three months,” Caltrans’ chief bridge engineer Brian Maroney told the Chronicle. “We’ll be done before Thanksgiving.” These implosions are scheduled to begin September 2, the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
The above video from the state Department of Transportation shows the process in SimCity terms, and is probably more entertaining than the implosions themselves will be. As with previous Bay Bridge pier implosions, the money shot will last but fewer than five seconds. Still, there is a tremendous amount of prep work Caltrans has to do to keep birds, dolphins, and other marine wildlife cordoned off from the blasts, plus substantial cleanup of rubble afterwards.
And now for the bad news these implosions will come with the obligatory pain in the ass for bridge users. Car traffic will not be affected, but the bike and pedestrian paths on the new bridge span will be shut off not just for the day of the scheduled implosions, but for the entire week beforehand as well.
According to the current schedule, implosions are scheduled for Sept. 2, Sept. 16, Sept. 30, Oct. 14, Oct. 28 and Nov. 11. But those dates are subject to change if weather or wildlife should happen to intervene.
“If a porpoise or a harbor seal goes into (an implosion) zone, we are not allowed to go ahead until specialists say the area is all clear,” Maroney told the Chronicle. “We cannot harm Flipper.”