San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Update
Chinese and American Officials Join to Mark Shipment of First East Span Steel Deck Segments
Changxing Island, Shanghai, China, Wednesday, December 30, 2009 … A cargo ship left the dock just after 1 p.m. today at the Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. (ZPMC) outside of Shanghai, carrying the first deck sections for the crowning jewel of the New East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge: the striking self-anchored suspension span that will bridge the gap between Yerba Buena Island and the already completed East Span Skyway.
The boat got under way with a series of loud bangs as ZPMC workers lit a series of firecrackers for good luck.
The shipment of more than 5,000 metric tons of steel (which equates to more than 11 million pounds) caps three years of intensive work here in Shanghai under the auspices of American Bridge/Fluor (ABF) to fabricate 28 massive, triangular steel deck sections along with a signature steel tower that will reach 525 feet into the sky.
Racing against a December 31 deadline for shipping the bridge’s first deck segments, workers spent the past couple of weeks loading the 225-meter ship, named the “Zhenhua 17,” with eight deck pieces for the bridge. Giant fasteners that are themselves welded to the ship’s deck grip the massive bridge pieces, which are stacked two deep and are shrouded in tarps to protect them from the rough winter seas. Also on board are cross beams that will tie together the span’s eastbound and westbound decks.
Today’s departure comes after a series of construction challenges, and triggers regular shipments in 2010 and into 2011 of both tower and deck sections.
“We’ve got the process down, and it’s really going to start to flow from here on,” said Ken Terpstra, Caltrans' project manager for the new East Span, who has been on the scene this week in Shanghai along with Tony Anziano, manager of Caltrans’ Toll Bridge Program, Stephen Maller, deputy director of the California Transportation Commission (CTC), and Andrew Fremier, deputy executive director of the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA), to witness the milestone. Together the three agencies – Caltrans, BATA and the CTC – form the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee, which has been directing the East Span seismic safety project.
The first voyage was recognized yesterday at a celebration at the Shanghai fabrication yard that brought together the Caltrans, BATA and CTC officials with their counterparts from ZPMC and ABF, and the vice mayor of Shanghai, Ai Baojun. At key moments, a nearby ZPMC ship sounded its horn while gold ceremonial cannons shot confetti into the air.
“Today represents a major milestone in the progress of the work,” Anziano told the crowd. “This first shipment will leave here and arrive in San Francisco one month later. The people of the San Francisco Bay Area will finally be able to see the results of your hard work.”
The highlight of the event was a ribbon cutting, China style: A half dozen young local women identically clad in stylish red winter coats trimmed with fur collars stretched across the stage a long red banner punctuated with large ribbon flowers while the officials wielded scissors.
“The Bay Bridge is the world’s first single-tower self-anchored and anti-seismic suspension steel bridge,” said ZPMC CEO Kang Xue-zeng at the ceremony (in Chinese and translated into English). “The difficulty of design and manufacture is unprecedented in the development history of bridges.”
Signaling that the best is yet to come, ZPMC officials strategically
placed the stage for yesterday’s ceremony in such a way as to
give the audience a full view of the East Span’s partially completed
iconic tower; crews have assembled the first segments here in Shanghai
to see how the tower’s four pentagram-shaped legs match up before
readying the set for shipment this coming spring.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission • 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California 94607
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