Labor Day 2009 Weekend
Aerial Operation a Success
Repairs Completed in Time for Tuesday Morning Commute
Tuesday morning, September 8, 2009:
In a video message on the project Web site, Caltrans
spokesman Bart Ney summed up the weekend’s
accomplishments and thanked Bay Area motorists:
"On behalf of Caltrans, the Bay Area Toll Authority.
and the California Transportation Commission [which
together comprise the Toll Bridge Program Oversight
Committee, or TBPOC], we would all like to say thank
you to Bay Area motorists for your patience over
Labor Day weekend. During Labor Day weekend we closed
the Bay Bridge and we moved almost 7,000 tons of
steel, landing a new transition section within a
half an inch of its mark to open up this new detour
for the Bay Bridge. It’s going to be here in
place, taking traffic out of the way so we can demolish
the section [of the original East Span] and bring
the new Bay Bridge in on the same footprint as the
original bridge. There was a wrinkle in our plans
for that weekend — we had to do another repair
on the East Span, on a crack in an eyebar; it extended
us a little bit longer, and your patience was greatly
appreciated. So once again, Bay Area motorists, thank
you from Caltrans and the Toll Bridge Program Oversight
See baybridgeinfo.org for
fresh videos of bridge developments and interviews
with key players.
Just as the region braced for a post-Labor Day commute made difficult by the continued closure of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, Caltrans was able to complete repairs on a recently detected crack overnight and reopen the bridge in time for this morning's commute after all. The bridge was fully open as of 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, just two hours behind the original 5 a.m. opening time announced at the outset of the Labor Day weekend deck bypass operation. Late in the afternoon of Labor Day proper, officials announced at a press conference that the bridge would have to remain closed 24 hours longer than initially planned, through 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, September 9. But crew members worked some 70 hours straight to get the job done in time for the start of the post-Labor Day work week.
Both the bypass installation that was the original focus of
the four-plus-day bridge closure and the emergency crack repair
that surfaced midstream were successfully completed along with
ancillary projects such as the demolition of the bridge's mini toll plaza to
make way for more efficient use of FasTrak® electronic
Monday, September 7, 2009, 9 p.m.:
Bay Bridge Closure Extended by 24 Hours to Repair Crack
The planned reopening of the Bay Bridge at 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning, September 8, will be extended by a day to allow crews to continue work on shoring up a cracked "eyebar" structural element detected in the East Sapn over the Labor Day weekend, Caltrans announced at a press conference late Monday. The reopening is now targeted for 5 a.m. on Wednesday, September 9. Several Bay Area transit agencies are augmenting or altering their service to help commuters cope with the continued bridge closure. Stay tuned to 511.org/baybridge/transit.asp for service updates.
"I really want to thank the traveling public," said Caltrans Director Randell Iwasaki. "I thank you for your patience; we're going to need your patience one more day."
Officials used the opportunity of the press conference at the Treasure Island construction zone to recognize the monumental achievements of the Labor Day weekend closure, which originally was planned to allow crews to install the final piece of a temporary bridge bypass. Since completing the roll-in of the 3,600-ton double-deck piece on Saturday, crews have been attending to reconnecting utilities that run across the bridge, restriping lanes, installing barriers and other details. That project is on track to be finished by the original 5 a.m. Tuesday deadline.
"It's been a long four days, but the job we came here to do is going to be done by tomorrow morning," said Dan Himick, president of C.C. Myers, the construction company that built the bypass and oversaw the installation of the final piece this weekend. It took the efforts of "two dozen different companies working together in a choreographed attack to get this job done," he noted.
Meanwhile, crews have been working continuously to install a pair of massive steel saddles around the cracked eyebar in an effort to redistribute the load off the damaged piece. Caltrans has issued a diagram of the repairs.
Sunday, September 6, 2009, 9 p.m.:
Materials Airlifted in for Emergency Repair of Bay Bridge
Crews are scrambling to install parts to fix a cracked structural element in the old East Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge -- an unexpected and dramatic twist in the four-plus-day bridge closure over Labor Day weekend that has primarily been focused on connecting the old East Span to a temporary bypass.
At a press conference late this afternoon, Mike Forner, Caltrans'
district division chief for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge,
said that the crack in the "eyebar" piece is about
a half-inch by six inches. The presence of rust indicates it's
been there for three to six months, and is not a result of this
weekend's work to cut away a chunk of the old East Span.
"An eye bar is a tension member; it is very important to the structure, which is the reason for the urgency to repair it now while the bridge is closed," Forner said.
Materials for repairing the damaged piece were shipped to the Bay Area today via a chartered plane from Arizona, at which point they were rushed to the job site with the help of a CHP escort.
"A herculean effort has been done to have these
pieces fabricated in one day," Caltrans spokesman
Bart Ney said at the press conference.
The challenge now is to complete the critical repair in time for the scheduled reopening of the Bay Bridge for the Tuesday morning, post-Labor Day commute.
"We are doing everything we can to complete this repair. It has been an incredible effort to get fabricators together and the design done and all the materials here during Labor Day weekend while most people are out enjoying barbecues. We are lucky that this group was able to come through for us," Ney said, adding that "crews will be working overnight; they won't be stopping."
Sunday, September 6, 2009, 1 p.m.:
With New Bypass Viaduct Successfully Installed, Attention Turns to Emergency Repair of Critical Piece
A series of loud metallic pops in the late afternoon of Friday, September 4, was music to the ears of the Caltrans and Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) officials perched at a strategic location on Yerba Buena Island and monitoring the movement of a massive deck section of the old East Span of the Bay Bridge. The noise indicated that after nearly 24 hours of preparation that had commenced with the bridge closure the night before, the 3,200-ton, 300-foot deck section was finally free of its moorings and was ready to roll out. Once it started to move on skids reportedly greased with common dish soap, the double-deck piece rolled out with relative ease and speed, assuming its resting position 150 feet above the ground by early Friday evening. With the most challenging phase of the procedure completed, crews on Saturday morning (September 5) turned their attention to the rolling in of the last piece of a detour structure. The detour will carry traffic to and from the Yerba Buena Island tunnel over the next several years while work is completed on bringing the new East Span of the Bay Bridge to the mouth of the Yerba Buena Island tunnel.
All day Saturday it was hurry up and wait as crews prepped the piece, and then started and stopped the procedure a couple of times. By lunchtime on Saturday, the piece appeared to have slid halfway in, a position it maintained until the late afternoon, at which point it traversed the last stretch smoothly and nearly silently, with a speedy pace that belied its 3,600-ton weight. Just as onlookers were celebrating the successful completion of the tricky roll-out/roll-in procedure and the impressive closure of the gaping hole in the double-deck structure, word broke that Caltrans inspection crews had detected a significant crack in an "eyebar" piece of the cantilever structure further down the line on the old East Span. Caltrans and its contractors are now in a race against time to take care of the unexpected glitch before the Labor Day weekend is over.
— Brenda Kahn with field reports
by Karin Betts