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Construction Begins on the New East Span of the Bay Bridge
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is pleased to announce the construction kickoff of the new East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Over the next five years, Bay Area residents will see a new landmark rise from the San Francisco Bay. Constructed to withstand a large-scale earthquake, the new East Span will replace the existing East Span and create a new era of safety for bridge users. The bridge will include many seismic advances and new design features such as a self-anchored suspension span, roadway shoulders that will ease traffic delays, and a bike/pedestrian path. Upon completion, the bridge will be able to withstand a major earthquake on either the Hayward or San Andreas fault.
The new East Span is a combination Skyway and single tower Self-Anchored Suspension Span with a bike/pedestrian path. It will be constructed north of the existing bridge to take advantage of geologic conditions near Yerba Buena Island. The new span will maximize panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline and the East Bay Hills. The new bridge will carry eastbound and westbound traffic on separate parallel road decks, each with five traffic lanes and two shoulders.
Construction of the new East Span began in January 2002 with the Geofill and Skyway contracts. The new bridge will be a magnificent addition to the world-famous array of beautiful bridges in the Bay Area.
Bay Area Celebrates the Construction Groundbreaking
With views of the existing bridge as a dramatic backdrop, Governor Gray Davis joined several hundred attendees on Treasure Island on January 29, 2002, to celebrate the beginning of construction of the new East Span. The celebration was a momentous occasion for all those who have worked hard on this multi-year project.
During his presentation, Governor Davis acknowledged the efforts of Caltrans, elected officials, participating agencies, and the public saying, This was a collaborative effort to make this day possible, but it has arrived. He also commented that the bridge would give the Bay Area economy a needed shot in the arm, as the project will employ thousands of people throughout its duration. Maria ContrerasSweet, Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing, introduced state and local elected officials and also thanked the project's key participants. At the end of the presentations, speakers and guests were invited to sign a ceremonial pile. Many reflective messages were written on the pile including, "This is a great undertaking! With God's blessing, this new bridge will stand magnificently for decades," written by Governor Davis. A fireboat water display under the existing bridge marked the grand finale of the event.
Highlights of the New East Span
A Signature Bridge Design
The designers envisioned the bridge as a white line across the Bay. All vertical elements, including the tower, piers, and light standards have been designed to emphasize the clean modern lines of the structure and intensify the effects of light and shadow. Unique light poles and railings will be used on the bridge to unify the different structural designs of each component and create a seamless appearance. The light poles will vary in height and illumination intensity to maintain a constant level of light on the roadway.
To add to its distinctiveness, the new asymmetrical suspension span will have a longer forward span (east of the tower) than back span, which will provide a more gradual transition from the gently sloping Skyway and will give the new East Span a unique silhouette.
Breaking the Record
In addition, the Skyway foundation will consist of 160 8-foot diameter hollow steel piles dispersed among 14 sets of piers. Each pile will be driven into the deep Bay mud up to 310 feet and weigh a maximum of 365 tons. The existing eastern span consists of only 85-foot long timber piles. The new East Span piles will also be driven at an angle (battered) rather than driven vertically to obtain maximum strength and resistance.
Seismic Safety at Work
The Suspension Span single tower design will also allow for greater movement. The Suspension Span single tower will rise 525 feet above mean sea level and will be embedded in rock. The single tower consists of four separate legs connected by cross beams. Like the hinge beam system in the Skyway, the cross beams would take the impact from an earthquake, preventing damage to the tower legs. In addition, if one of the legs does sustain damage, the other legs will keep the bridge standing.
Because the geological conditions of the Bay cannot support cable anchor foundations where the new East Span is located, the suspension span is self-anchoring, which means the suspender cables are anchored in the deck itself. A single suspension cable will wrap over the tower and underneath the western end of the span, then wrap over the tower again and anchor in both roadway decks at the eastern end. Suspenders will connect diagonally from this cable, which crosses over the roadway to the outside edges of the deck.
Building a Bridge for the 21st Century: Step One
The new East Span will begin east of the Yerba Buena Island tunnel
where the existing double-deck structure will transition to the new
Self-Anchored Suspension Span. Its tallest point will rise 157 feet
above mean sea level to provide an elevated section to accommodate
marine traffic. The Skyway will then slope gradually down towards
the Oakland shore (Touchdown Area) and connect to existing traffic
lanes west of the toll plaza. The entire length of the new East Span
is 3,514 meters (11,525 feet).
Geofill Contract: the First Stage of Construction
The Skyway: the Longest Component of the East Span
Beginning in August 2002, pile driving operations for the Skyway foundation will begin and are expected to take around one and a half years. These activities will be visible from Oakland and Yerba Buena Island, but barely visible to motorists driving on the bridge. The Skyway contract will have no impact to traffic on the existing bridge, although motorists may be aware of the pile driving activities.
In summer 2003, the first concrete segments for the Skyway deck will arrive for installation. Each segment will be as big as a three-story building, at 30 feet high, 80 feet wide, and 25 feet long. The sections will be barged in and then hoisted in place with large cranes. Each concrete segment will be built outward from the piers until it reaches the segment coming from the opposite pier. The hinge beam system (explained on page 2) will then be inserted to connect the segments. Caltrans will then add the bike/pedestrian path and complete the electrical and utility work. The path will be a prefabricated steel structure that will be lifted into place in segments and attached to the roadway with large anchor bolts.
Maintaining Traffic Flow during Construction is a Key Goal
Caltrans is developing a Traffic Management Plan (TMP) with input
from local and public agencies. The TMP outlines strategies to minimize
public inconvenience, facilitate construction, and maximize public
safety. It addresses construction-related traffic issues, such as
roadway closures, lane closures, and access issues. The TMP also includes
a public awareness campaign involving measures that allow communication
of project information to residents, employers, commuters, the media,
and public officials.
The majority of the construction and demolition activities that require
lane closures on the existing Bay Bridge will be conducted either
during off-peak hours or on weekends. Other activities will require
a limited number of eastbound only and full bridge closures. Caltrans
is currently working with Bay Area transit agencies to develop the
best schedule for lane and bridge closures with the least impact on
transit operations and the driving public.
Funding for the Retrofit Projects Secured
As with other projects of this magnitude and importance, the East Span Project requires substantial investment and funding from many sources. The current cost estimate for the East Span Project is $2.6 billion, with the total cost of funding the California Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program for all state-owned bridges at $4.637 billion. Funding for the toll bridge program has been obtained from several sources outlined in the information below. The initial sources of funding were approved in 1997 with Senate Bills 60 and 226. On October 14, 2001, Governor Davis approved Assembly Bill 1171 to help provide additional funding for seismic improvements of the Bay Area toll bridges. The bill provides for local funding by extending the $1 toll bridge seismic surcharge on all Bay Area state-owned toll bridges (which does not include the Golden Gate Bridge) through no later than January 1, 2038, and provides $642 million of federal funding from the Highway Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement Program (HBRR).
To make payments for the projects, Caltrans will borrow funds through the issuance of revenue bonds and through the Federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA). TIFIA allows money to be borrowed from the federal government with a five-year delay in the schedule of payment of principal and interest, which significantly helps to reduce the cost of the loan.
Final Steps in the Environmental
Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on May 8, 2001. This major milestone was followed by FHWAs selection of the Preferred Alternative on July 11, 2001, in the Record of Decision. The decision is the culmination of a multi-year review process involving thorough design, engineering, and environmental analyses with extensive input from the public, local government agencies in the Bay Area, and resource and regulatory agencies.
Prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the FEIS is based upon the findings of approximately 30 different technical studies and analyses that assessed impacts related to air quality, noise and vibration, traffic circulation, land use, biological resources, endangered species, historical and cultural resources, and hazardous wastes. The FEIS evaluated potential environmental, social, and economic impacts and outlined mitigation measures for the Preferred Alternative as well as four other alternatives that were evaluated in the Draft EIS. Public comment and government input played an important role in completing the FEIS, with Caltrans addressing over 400 individual comments.
After the FEIS was published, the next steps in the environmental approval process included securing permits and reaching agreement on mitigation measures. Some of the most significant mitigation measures Caltrans will be undertaking include preserving the history of the existing bridge and historic and archeological sites as well as participating in major wetland and biological mitigation. Throughout construction, Caltrans will work with various agencies to monitor the success of the mitigation measures.
Historic Preservation for Future Generations
Caltrans has worked with the U.S. Navy, the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the State Office of Historic Preservation to protect the historic buildings and archeological sites on Yerba Buena Island (YBI) and to preserve the history of the Bay Bridge. The Nimitz House and the Senior Officers Quarters will be protected by the establishment of Environmentally Sensitive Areas. No historic buildings will be removed or demolished. In November 2001, Caltrans began coordinating with the Ohlone Indians for their opinions on the treatment of archeological sites on YBI.
Caltrans is also working with the Oakland Museum to develop exhibits that preserve the history of the existing San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Likewise, Caltrans is coordinating with the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) to include interpretive exhibits at the proposed Gateway Park located in the Oakland Touchdown Area. The exhibits will document the existing East Span, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park is envisioned to be a place that people can come to view exhibits about the history of the Bay Bridge and to enjoy spectacular views of the Bay. The Gateway Park also will provide access to the Bay, which is currently not accessible to the public at that location. A bike path in the proposed park would connect to the bridges bike/pedestrian path and to the Bay Trail. The Gateway Park will be a magnificent addition to the Bay Area, similar to the vista point on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Key Agencies Responsible for Protecting Bay Area Resources in the Vicinity of the East Span
Agency coordination began early in the environmental review process and was completed when agencies and Caltrans reached agreement on the measures to mitigate project-related impacts. The agencies that Caltrans coordinated with and their responsibilities in the permit and approval process are described below.
Regional Water Quality Control Board regulates discharges into waters of the Bay and as such evaluates measures used during construction to prevent polluted water from draining into the Bay.
Bay Conservation and Development Commission regulates placement of fill in the Bay and provides other guidelines for Bay conservation.
The California Department of Fish and Game issues permits, which specify terms and conditions to mitigate adverse effects for projects that affect endangered species.
United States Army Corps of Engineers regulates discharges into waters of the United States and disposal of dredged materials in the Bay.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service determines whether a project has adverse effects on endangered species and establishes measures to minimize those adverse effects.
The National Marine Fisheries Service determines whether a project has adverse effects on protected marine species and establishes measures to minimize those adverse effects.
The United States Coast Guard issues permits to build bridges over navigable waters of the United States.
The State Office of Historic Preservation administers the statewide historic preservation program in California and ensures project compliance with federal and state regulatory obligations for historic preservation.
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is responsible for balancing historic preservation concerns with federal project requirements.
Caltrans Commits to Major Biological and Wetland Mitigation
Some of the most far-reaching environmental protection measures that were approved in autumn 2001 are the result of the Biological Opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Pursuant to the Endangered Species Act, the Biological Opinion analyzes the effects and outlines mitigation measures for impacts the proposed construction would have on endangered fish species and their designated critical habitats. The Biological Opinion found that pile driving and dredging/disposal activities associated with constructing the East Span are likely to adversely affect aquatic sites and endangered fish species including salmon species and steelhead. Because of these anticipated impacts, multiple agencies cooperated to develop both on-site and off-site measures to offset these impacts.
Protecting Fish and Their Environs
Since dredging is required for barge access, foundation construction, pile cap construction, and for dismantling the existing bridge, Caltrans is taking special measures to protect fish and their habitat. Dredging may adversely affect fish by increasing water turbidity and making it easier for predatory fish to attack other fish. Most fish avoid areas with high turbidity, but Caltrans will take precautions to lessen impacts including limiting dredging to specific seasons if feasible.
Dredging also may affect rare aquatic sites within the Bay estuary; an estuary is a water body in which salt water mixes with river water. These sites include sand flats and eelgrass beds, which are easily affected by changes in water quality and turbidity. Eelgrass can expand and contract by as much as several hectares per season. Both sand flats and eelgrass are critical to the overall health of the estuary as they help stabilize shorelines from tidal action and provide habitat to invertebrates and many species of fish. Sand flats and eelgrass also provide a foraging and roosting area for shorebirds. Since these aquatic sites are protected by an agreement with the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the NMFS, Caltrans will conduct on-site measures at the Oakland Touchdown Area to restore eelgrass and portions of the sand flats. Caltrans will also fund $1 million for an eelgrass research project to improve eelgrass restoration methodologies.
Multi-Agency Partnership Creates Significant Wetland Restoration
With approval from the NMFS and the Bay Conservation Development Commission, Caltrans will provide up to $8 million to the USFWS to acquire Skaggs Island from the Navy and restore approximately 3,300 acres of diked historic Baylands in the North Bay. The island would provide potential habitat for endangered species including clapper rails, least terns, and salt marsh harvest mice.
Additionally, $2.5 million will fund several of the EBRPDs restoration projects at the Eastshore Park within Central Bay. The Central Bay sites provide near-project restoration opportunities at Radio Beach, Brickyard Cove, Albany Beach, and Hoffman Marsh.
Caltrans will also provide $4 million to the NMFS for the restoration of federal- and state-listed salmon habitat in the Central and South Bay. These funds will be used on tributary and fishery projects that improve the ability of steelhead and salmon to migrate upstream to spawn.
Creating Nesting Habitat for the Cormorant
Bay Bridge Trivia Questions
When did the first Bay Bridge Project begin and when did it open?
What was the total cost of building the existing bridge and what
was the initial toll?
What was the average daily traffic when the bridge first opened
compared to now?
Have there been any significant modifications to the bridge since
it first opened?
When was the lighting necklace added to the bridge?
Has the bridge been used in any movies or television shows?
What is the official name of the bridge?
Keeping you Informed
Caltrans will continue to provide updates on construction activities throughout the project via newsletters, traffic advisories, special bulletins, and other public involvement activities. Updates will also be provided on the project website at www.dot.ca.gov/ dist4/projects.htm and then click Bay Bridge East Span Replacement Project. In 2003, closer to construction on Yerba Buena Island, Caltrans will conduct a public awareness campaign to inform the public about bridge closures and detours.
If you have comments or questions about the East Span Seismic Safety Project, mail them to:
Public Information Office
Caltrans District 4
PO Box 23660
Oakland, CA 94623-0660
or send your