Good news: You soon won’t have to worry anymore about the Bay Bridge collapsing into The Bay on your morning commute.
No, really: The replacement span is engineered to last for the next 150 years and to withstand the largest predicted earthquake in the next 1,500 years.
Bridge engineers announced on Tuesday that the eastern span Bay Bridge, the longest self-anchored suspension bridge in the world, is holding its own weight on the first try.
This was following what was called the Big Lift, moving the support for the bridge from temporary cables to the single mile-long cable that now supports the entire structure.
Project managers had worried that their three-month-long “tuning” of the cabling wouldn’t be perfect, and would instead have to undergo fine-tuning until the transfer was completed properly. Instead, the transfer went off without a hitch.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission Executive Director Steve Heminger told the Contra Costa Times:
“There was never any question the bridge would hold itself up. The question (was) whether when (construction crews) picked it up, would they do it right the first time or would they have to be tuning it again and again? That fear turned out to be unfounded.”
During the tuning period the decks of the bridge rose 18 inches, rising above the trestles that previously supported them during construction, hence claims of this now “officially” being the longest self-anchored suspension bridge in the world.
With the load transfer complete, the final touches are now simpler: treating the main cable, removing the temporary trestles, painting the bridge, and so on.
This work is on track and expected to meet its current opening day of Labor Day 2013.