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Why a New Bridge?
Earthquakes and Bridges
East Span Design Basics
Fast FAQs
More on Design
Seismic Safety
Site Challenges
The Bridge and the Environment
Bridging by Numbers
Bridgespeak Glossary

Fast FAQs: Basic Questions, Simple Answers

Q: Why is the new East Span being built?
A: For seismic safety. Construction of new bridge is less costly and more feasible than retrofitting the existing bridge and making it conform to modern standards.

Q: Where will the new bridge go?
A: Just north of the existing bridge.

Q: How long will it take to build?
A: As of 2002, Caltrans estimated the bridge would take five years to build the entire project. Keep in mind, however, that schedules and construction methods can change.

Q: When will the Skyway be finished?
A: The target date is summer, 2006.

Q: When will the Suspension section be finished?
A: A target date has not yet been established.

Q: When will I be able to drive on the bridge?
A: The target date for opening the westbound lanes is December, 2006.

Q: What will the new bridge cost?
A: As of late 2002, the estimated cost was $2.6 billion.

Q: How many lanes will the new bridge have?
A: Five in each direction, same as the original bridge.

Q: Why aren't there more lanes?
A: Because the Yerba Buena tunnel limits the number of lanes.

Q: How, then, will the new bridge improve traffic flow?
A: Because the original bridge has no emergency shoulders, stalls and accidents are the main causes of bridge backups. The design of the new bridge includes wide emergency shoulders that will allow accidents and stalls to be pushed to the side.

Q: What will happen to the old bridge?
A: It is scheduled to be demolished in 2007.

Q: How will the old bridge be demolished?
A: According to Caltrans, it will be done very carefully, section by section, lowered on to barges and taken to a steel mill for recycling. The piers in the water must also be removed so they won't get in the way of ships and boats. When Caltrans removed the old Antioch and Dumbarton Bridges, its contractor used explosives, had the pieces of the bridges tied to cables and pulled them out of the water afterward. On the Bay Bridge, Caltrans will not allow that because of possible harm to fish and marine mammals in the area. The old bridge is a historical structure so Caltrans must make a detailed record of it with photographs and videos before it's gone.

Got a question? Email us at [email protected].

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