We are nearing the one-month anniversary of the beautiful new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, and although I haven't ventured into the City and actually driven over it, I feel extremely privileged to say I've been lucky enough to actually walk on the bridge before it opened for traffic after Labor Day Weekend.
I am grateful for this opportunity, possible thanks to Alamo resident Uri Eliahu, president of ENGEO Incorporated, headquartered in San Ramon. Specializing in geotechnical, water-resources and environmental engineering services, the firm provided technical expertise on the Bay Bridge project.
ENGEO Principal Joe Tootle is also from Alamo. His company was involved in the western and eastern sections of the work. The western portion is the transition structure, founded on Yerba Buena Island, and provides the transition from the new side-by-side decks to the double-deck profile that connects to the Yerba Buena tunnel.
I was fortunate to slip in on a tour he conducted in August; it's indescribable the magnitude of the structure and complexity of intricate work that goes into something of this caliber. And as we walked and listened to Uri explain the mind boggling logistics, workers went about their task of last-day details to make the opening deadline. We blended in with our hard hats and neon vests, but the similarities ended there; as we leisurely strolled, the workers were hard at it. In awe, as I stood on the bridge and gazed up at the massive tower. Uri explained its significance:
"The most salient and dramatic part of the bridge is the suspension span, which is supported entirely by the tall, four-column tower, so prominent from many vantage points," he said. "This is the longest self-anchored suspension span in the world, with the self-anchoring technology allowing this portion of the bridge to stand independently of the other structures," he explained.
I recently contacted Uri about the complexity of construction that went into it, and he gave me, via e-mail, a recap of the significance of this historical bridge.
"The main cable that supports the bridge decks is actually a single cable which starts at the Oakland end of the suspension portion, rises to a saddle at the top of the tower, descends to the western end of the span, wraps around the west end (like a sling) and rises back to the tower, over the saddle, and back to the eastern end of the suspended deck," he explained. He told me the concept was conceived after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, when a portion of the upper deck of the old Bay Bridge eastern portion collapsed.
ENGEO is also providing the geotechnical engineering for the redevelopment of Treasure Island, and Uri says it will be "an iconic jewel in the middle of the Bay that befits the elegance of the new Bay Bridge." He told me this sustainable community will include residential towers, a world-class destination retail complex, a hotel and a new ferry terminal, along with large open-space and park areas.
"When you stand at Treasure Island and look at the bridge, you can appreciate not only how efficient it is, but how sleek and beautiful it is and will be even more majestic when the old bridge is dismantled, which was an engineering marvel in its day, 80 years ago," he added. When I drive over the bridge for the first time, I'll be focused on the traffic around me, but I will also think about the time I got to actually walk where tires now tread! (Folks, you can now follow me on Twitter, @chitchatwithcat)