Construction Begins on the New East Span of the Bay Bridge
Bay Area Celebrates the Construction Groundbreaking
Highlights of the New East Span
Building a Bridge for the 21st Century: Step One
Highlights of the Five Construction Contracts
Contruction Close-Ups: How will the Geofill and Skyway Contracts Affect the Public?
Maintaining Traffic Flow during Construction is a Key Goal
Funding for the Retrofit Projects Secured
Final Steps in the Environmental Approval Process
Historic Prservation for Future Generations
Key Agencies Responsible for Protecting Bay Area Resources in the Vicinity of the East Span
Caltrans Commits to Major Biological and Wetland Mitigation
Bay Area Trivia Questions

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 Contreras–Sweet, 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
As a new Bay Area landmark, the new East Span will provide state-of-the-art technology and usher in the look of this new century. The design is modern and striking, with the profile of the new Suspension Span mirroring the lines of the existing suspension bridge between San Francisco and Yerba Buena Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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
The new East Span is a bridge of staggering proportions. It will require the use of the largest hydraulic hammers and cranes in the world. It will consist of the world’s largest precast concrete segments (three-stories tall) for the Skyway deck and the entire span will contain approximately 200 million pounds of structural steel, 120 million pounds of reinforcing steel, 200 thousand linear feet of piling, and around 450 thousand cubic yards of concrete.

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 new East Span incorporates important seismic safety advances, which will help the bridge absorb shock and allow for movement between segments. To withstand earthquake energy, the Skyway section utilizes a hinge beam system, which includes two-meter diameter steel tubes placed between each segment of the deck. The steel tubes will allow deck segments to slide during temperature or earthquake expansion and contraction and will absorb earthquake energy, preventing damage to the main structure.

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.

Bike/Pedestrian Path
The new East Span has also been designed with a 15.5-foot-wide bike/pedestrian path, to be built one foot above roadway level on the south side of the eastbound deck. The path is the result of a cooperative effort among bicycle and pedestrian interests and participating agencies and will move the Bay Area closer to completing the proposed 400-mile multi-use trail that will circle the Bay. Caltrans is building the path in accordance with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure the path is accessible for everyone. The proposed design includes seven viewing platforms that will allow pedestrians and bicyclists to enjoy sweeping vistas of the Bay and hills.

Efficient Inspection
Some of the piers that have footings below the water will have access-casings to allow inspectors to walk down into the pile cap to inspect the condition of the pile cap and pier connection after an earthquake. Without the casings, Caltrans would need to use the past and dangerous method of sending divers into the water to inspect the area. Caltrans is also installing a seismic monitoring system at key locations on the bridge to indicate forces and displacements caused by an earthquake. This system will allow Caltrans to identify potential structural problems more quickly.

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).
To facilitate an efficient and cost effective building program, the East Span Project has been divided into four separate construction contracts: 1) Geofill, 2) Skyway, 3) Self-Anchored Suspension Bridge/Yerba Buena Island Transition Structures, and 4) Oakland Approach Structures. In addition, Caltrans will pursue a separate contract to remove the existing bridge.
Many highly qualified companies from around the world have followed the East Span Project and participated in several Caltrans-sponsored Contractors’ Outreach Conferences to learn about the East Span contracts. On January 8 and January 17, 2002, Caltrans awarded the Geofill Contract to Gordin N. Ball, Inc. and the Skyway contract to Kewit/FCI/Mansen Joint Venture. These contracts are explained on the following page. The other three contracts will be advertised throughout the next five years as shown on the table below.

Construction Close-Ups:
How Will the Geofill and Skyway Contracts Affect the Public?

Geofill Contract: the First Stage of Construction
The Geofill contract marks a critical first step in construction of the new East Span. The purpose of this contract is to stabilize the underlying soil at the Oakland Touchdown Area by applying surcharge (dirt fill) to remove water and cause settlement. When settlement has reached an acceptable rate, the Oakland Touchdown Area will be ready to support the new westbound approach and the relocated maintenance road. Caltrans expects settlement to take nine months.
Construction activities related to the Geofill contract will have a minimal impact on motorists and the surrounding community. Trees have already been removed from this area, which is visible to motorists driving westbound past the Toll Plaza. Around the middle of spring 2002, earth-hauling trucks will begin driving surcharge to the work area during off-peak hours. Increases in noise levels will be minimal.

The Skyway: the Longest Component of the East Span
The Skyway is the longest component of the East Span Project. It will consist of two adjacent structures that stretch over a mile in length.
From January through April 2002, most activities on the Skyway contract will involve procurement of materials. The first visible work for this contract is dredging, which is expected to begin in early May 2002.

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.
As the new East Span is being built on a new alignment, the vast majority of construction activities will not require lane closures of the existing Bay Bridge. Permanent transportation impacts to local traffic, transit, and maritime traffic will be negligible.
Beginning in winter 2004, ramp closures on Yerba Buena Island (YBI), lane closures, and a limited number of complete closures on the existing bridge will occur to construct the detour tie-in on YBI. The on/off ramps on the east side of the island will be closed for approximately 32 and 22 months, respectively. Access to the island will still be available from the two on/off ramps located on the west side of YBI. Additional detours will be in place to carry traffic around the construction zone on YBI.

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.
Updates on the closure schedules and the details of the traffic mitigation strategies will be featured in a future issue of East Span News, closer to the time of construction on Yerba Buena Island (YBI).

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 FHWA’s 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 bridge’s 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
The underwater sound pressure waves caused by pile driving can cause trauma to fish, increasing stress and the risk of mortality. To reduce the effects of sound pressure waves on nearby fish, Caltrans, consistent with permit conditions, has required the contractors to use sound attenuation devices. These sound attenuation devices will either be created using dewatered cofferdams or a "bubble curtain system." A cofferdam creates a dry work area through solid vertical barriers that prevent water from entering the work area. As a side benefit, the cofferdams also reduce the effects of pile driving because they are a solid barrier between the sound pressure waves and the water. In areas where cofferdams are not being installed, the contractor would use a bubble curtain system (described in the diagram below) during pile driving to enclose all permanent in-water piles with a continuous stream of bubbles.

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 Opportunities
In addition to the above on-site mitigation measures, a multi-agency effort is underway to create significant off-site mitigation opportunities. Caltrans is providing funds to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for ecosystem restoration at Skaggs Island in Sonoma County and to the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) for shoreline and tidal marsh restoration at the Eastshore Park. These off-site mitigation projects are the largest Caltrans has ever funded and are the result of various agencies and environmental interest groups working together to envision measures that will substantially improve the ecosystem of the Bay. “The opportunity at Skaggs Island is really big. It has tremendous potential for dealing with the tidal engine. It is maybe ten percent of the restoration opportunity in the Bay Area,” explained Dale Pierce with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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 EBRPD’s 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
The new bridge will include nesting habitat for the double-crested Cormorant, a migratory bird species that currently lives in the trusses underneath the existing bridge. The existing Cormorant colony on the Bay Bridge is the second largest in northern California, second only to the Farallon Islands. Caltrans is making a significant contribution to ensure the habitat is replaced underneath the new East Span. The habitat will not be visible to the public.

Bay Bridge Trivia Questions

When did the first Bay Bridge Project begin and when did it open?
Serious discussions about building the bridge began in 1921. By 1930, the Bay Bridge had been approved for construction. The bridge officially opened on November 12, 1936.

What was the total cost of building the existing bridge and what was the initial toll?
The total cost of building the existing bridge was $77.6 million. When completed, the Bay Bridge was the longest and most expensive bridge in the world. The toll was 65 cents each way in 1936.

What was the average daily traffic when the bridge first opened compared to now?
In the mid-1930s, the average daily traffic over the bridge was 10,000 vehicles; local newspapers estimated that 150,000 cars passed over the bridge during the first 36 hours due to the thrill of the opening celebration. Today, approximately 274,000 vehicles use the bridge each day.

Have there been any significant modifications to the bridge since it first opened?
The original bridge had six lanes on the upper deck for two directions of auto traffic. The lower deck carried three lanes of trucks and buses (switched for peak directions) and two rail lines for the inter-urban and Key System trains. Starting in 1959 and completed in 1963, five lanes on each deck were created and the tracks for the rail lines were removed.

When was the lighting necklace added to the bridge?
The lighting necklace was added for the 50th anniversary of the bridge in 1986. The lights were permanently installed a year and a half later.

Has the bridge been used in any movies or television shows?
The bridge has been used in many movies and television shows. Some movies in which the bridge has a role include The Thin Man, The Graduate, The End of the World, George of the Jungle, Made in America, Basic Instinct, and Sudden Impact.

What is the official name of the bridge?
The official name of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is the James “Sunny Jim” Rolph Bridge. James Rolph was Mayor of San Francisco for 19 years from 1911 to 1931. He was elected Governor of California in 1931 and served until his death in 1934.

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 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.

Return to the East Span Project Home Page.



If you have comments or questions about the East Span Seismic Safety Project, mail them to:

Greg Bayol
Public Information Office
Caltrans District 4
PO Box 23660
Oakland, CA 94623-0660

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