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Overview - The Skyway
At $1.04 billion, it is the largest construction contract ever awarded by Caltrans. Nothing like it has ever been built in a seismic zone. And it will require the largest cranes, the biggest piledrivers and the strongest 16th of an inch of epoxy ever devised.
Construction of the Skyway portion of the new East Span will be an epic undertaking.
Reaching gracefully for more than a mile from the Oakland Touchdown structure to the Suspension section, the Skyway will be the longest component of the East Span. It can be thought of as not one bridge but two - a westbound deck and an eastbound deck separated by thin air.
The two parallel roadways will each have five traffic lanes and emergency shoulders. The design also includes a 15-foot-wide pedestrian/bicycle path on the southern side with viewing platforms. A lighting scheme will flatter the bridge's features.
The Skyway construction will rely on heavy lifting. Prefabricated footing boxes in excess of 1,000 tons will be lowered into place to serve as footings for the 28 piers.
Precast roadway sections - 452 in all - will be made in Stockton, then shipped down the Delta into the Bay on barges. These segments, up to 30 feet high, 90 feet wide, 25 feet long and weighing between 480 and 780 tons, will be the largest precast concrete bridge segments ever constructed.
They will be hoisted by powerful winches to within six inches of their positions on the skyway and locked in place by miles of steel cables and a slow-curing but hard-gripping epoxy spread to a mere sixteenth of an inch on each joining segment. Servicing the whole operation will be some of the largest cranes in the world.
The Skyway is a global project. Its components and the machines to make them come from all compass points. The forms for the precast segments and the machinery to lift them come from Italy. The giant templates that will guide the pile driving come from Washington. The footings are being fabricated in Texas.
In the winter of 2000-2001, test piles for the new East Span were driven, using a 108-ton "hammer" driver. The Skyway prime contractor, KFM, a joint venture between Kiewit Pacific Co., FCI Constructors and Manson, built extensive headquarters and yard facilities at the end of Burma Road near the Oakland end of the existing bridge. Dredge crews cleared areas for the new Skyway piers and dug a channel though the shallow waters to allow access for construction barges. A trestle pier extending from the Oakland shore was built for access to the offshore work sites. The 50-acre Skyway Precast Yard where the roadway sections are being fabricated was built in Stockton.
All that was just a prelude for the action now taking place on the Bay. The installation of piles and foundations for the Skyway's 28 piers is now in full swing.
For more details on current activities, visit Construction Closeup: Nine Miles of Pipe -- Piledriving Now Underway.
Updated May, 2003.