Caltrans Identifies Preferred Alternative
After a thorough evaluation of various alternatives and careful consideration of comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) from the public and agencies, in December 1998, Caltrans identified Replacement Alternative N-6 as the Preferred Alternative for the East Span Seismic Safety Project.
For the past several years Caltrans has been progressing with "risk design" which means the design work is being conducted for the Preferred Alternative although it has not received final environmental approval. Because of the public safety considerations of any seismic safety project, Caltrans believes that moving forward with risk design is prudent and would result in significant time savings in providing for public safety. If the Preferred Alternative is approved, it would save significant time to have design complete upon approval. The risk is that the Preferred Alternative may not receive final environmental approval and design work would have to be redone, resulting in delays to providing for seismic safety and increased costs.
The Preferred Alternative would construct a new bridge with two side-by-side bridge decks, each with five lanes plus shoulders. The existing bridge would be dismantle. The replacement bridge would be a combination self-anchored suspension/skyway design, which was recommended as the locally preferred option by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) after extensive reviews. The new span would include a bicycle/pedestrian path on the south side of the eastbound deck.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released in May 2001. The FEIS provides updated information on the alternatives, impacts, and mitigation measures, and incorporates responses to public and agency comments on the DEIS. The FEIS is posted on Caltrans District 4 Website. The Notice of Availability (NOA) was published in the Federal Register on May 18, 2001. The FHWA can file a Record of Decision (ROD) in the Federal Register after June 18, 2001. The ROD will close the NEPA environmental review process, explain the reasons for the project decision, and summarize mitigation measures that will be incorporated into the project. Construction of the East Span Project is targeted to begin in 2002.
Design & Engineering Approximately 85% Complete
Work is progressing on detailed design and engineering to advance the Preferred Alternative to the construction phase. This includes finalizing the Plans, Specifications & Estimates (PS&E). Further design refinements are being made to bridge elements including piers, lighting, and the bicycle/pedestrian path. Caltrans has also completed extensive geotechnical analyses, which included deep drilling into the Bay floor and drilling on Yerba Buena Island and the Oakland touchdown to examine soil and rock conditions for bridge foundations.
Caltrans continues to work in partnership with MTC on the bridge design. The Bay Bridge Design Task Force and the Engineering and Design Advisory Panel were both formed by MTC.
For more information on the Preferred Alternative and the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) process, check out the environmental process section.
For more information on the agency review process, check out the agency and local involvement section.
Caltrans Owns Land on Yerba Buena Island
Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration have achieved a major milestone towards seismic safety by securing the right-of-way for the East Span Project. In October 2000 the Federal Highway Administration granted 20 acres of land on Yerba Buena Island to Caltrans for permanent right-of-way. Another 78 acres were granted to Caltrans for temporary access to land and water during the construction of the East Span. The transfer of the lands previously held by the U.S. Navy was authorized under a federal law that gives precedence for the use of federal land for the U.S. Interstate Highway System. The permanent right-of-way and temporary construction easements are alternative-neutral.
There will be no physical changes to the land until the environmental compliance process is complete for the East Span Project. Any rights-of-way not required for the East Span Project will revert to the U.S. Navy after the East Span Project is complete.
The transfer of real property from the U.S. Navy to another federal agency is categorically excluded from further documentation requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act. The deed for conveyance of property to the state was recorded on October 26, 2000 with the City and County of San Francisco Recorder's Office.
Pile Installation Demonstration Project Completed
The Pile Installation Demonstration Project (PIDP) conducted from October 19, 2000 to December 13, 2000 is expected to provide Caltrans information on construction techniques for the East Span Project. The piles used for the demonstration project are the same type that have been proposed for the risk design's main span and skyway structure foundations. Similar foundations would be proposed for the other build alternatives. The large, deeply driven piles represent the innovative technology that will be used to construct the East Span. The support from the large steel piles is a critical seismic safety feature for the East Span.
Caltrans conducted the PIDP to test the procedures and effects of driving large steel piles through relatively soft soils into the dense sands of the Alameda Formation that exists below the Bay’s waters.
Caltrans installed massive battered piles (piles installed at an angle) through the Bay's waters. The piles measured 2.5 meters in diameter (8 feet) and 107 meters in length (350 feet). The pile size is unique, as is the method used to drive the piles into the soil. Two of the three piles were installed at an angle of one horizontal length to six vertical lengths or 9.5 degrees from vertical.
Caltrans monitored and recorded aerial and underwater sound levels during the demonstration to identify possible effects on species such as harbor seals that have a rest area on Yerba Buena Island. Air bubble curtains were used for sound attenuation during pile driving. Caltrans and the National Marine Fisheries Service will use the data to establish mitigation measures that will help minimize the potential impacts to marine mammals and to fish during East Span Project construction activities. The results of the PIDP are expected to reduce costs, reduce delays, and aid potential contractors in preparing accurate bids for the skyway and main span portion of the East Span Project.
Bay Bridge Retrofit Update
Retrofitting the existing West Viaduct section was completed in November 1999. Work continues on several of the Bay Bridge retrofit projects. Work on the West Span's caissons and piers below the roadway was completed in February 2000. Work on the West Suspension Span is targeted to be completed April 2003. Work on the Yerba Buena Island tunnel is targeted to be completed October 2001. Work on the West Approach is targeted to be completed May 2007.
The interim retrofit of the East Span was completed in July 2000. The interim retrofit will strengthen the East Span to provide more life safety during a lower magnitude earthquake.
Planning for Gateway Park Continues at Oakland Touchdown Area
Although the park is not part of the East Span Project, Caltrans is providing input to an interagency team that is planning a "gateway park." The park would be located at the Oakland touchdown of the new bridge and would provide recreational opportunities along the Bay shore. The park would provide an attractive welcome to the East Bay for motorists on the bridge. A bike path in the proposed park would connect to the bridge's bicycle/pedestrian path and to the Bay Trail. The park would be connected to the proposed Eastshore State Park via the Bay Trail.
The planning for the gateway park is being spearheaded by the East Bay Regional Park District. Initial park proposals include landscaping with native trees, plants and grasses, ponds for waterfowl, scenic outlooks, picnic areas, artwork, and interpretive exhibits documenting the existing East Span, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A competition for park design will be conducted. Additional land and funding must be acquired for the park to be developed.
The Oakland Base Reuse Authority has designated a portion of the closed Oakland Army Base for this park. This 14.7-acre parcel of land is located at the Oakland touchdown on the south side of the existing bridge. The southern replacement alternative, S-4, would bisect the proposed park.
Contractors' Forum Held for East Span Project
Caltrans hosted an informational forum for potential East Span Project contractors at the District 4 Headquarters in Oakland on November 10, 2000. Approximately 170 contractors, fabricators, and suppliers attended the information session. The information session focused on the skyway contract, which is targeted to be advertised in mid-2001. Information on civil engineering and environmental details, geology, overview of structures, details on the skyway contract, and project specifications were provided.
Contracting information for the East Span Project will be posted on the Caltrans District 4 Website when available. The meeting summary and list of attendees from the information session are currently available on the site.