End in sight for old Bay Bridge

Caltrans said it has selected a bidder to remove most of the upper section of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge by 2018.

The first phase of demolition work on the 78-year-old original eastern span began in September 2013 after the new eastern span, which was designed to be safer during an earthquake, was opened to traffic. The first phase involved dismantling the cantilever section of the span and much of that work has been completed, although some work remains to be done.

Caltrans said it has awarded a $69 million contract to California Engineering Contractors Inc. of Pleasanton for the second phase of the demolition work, which calls for removing five 504-foot double deck steel truss spans, 14 double deck steel truss spans that are 288 feet long and removing 13 steel towers.  The work is projected to begin this summer and finish in 2018, according to Caltrans.

The transportation agency said the contract is about 25 percent less than the $93 million estimate by engineers. Caltrans said some of the cost savings will come from an accelerated construction method that will involve lowering deck pieces onto barges there they can be dismantled off-site, rather than on the bridge.

Caltrans said another important part of the contract is dealing with birds that seasonally nest on the old eastern span and the contractor’s strategy is to minimize the impact on the birds by completing most demolition work before the next bird nesting season begins in February 2016.

Caltrans spokeswoman Leah Robinson-Leach said the third phase of the demolition work will be to remove the foundations, which could involve using explosives. Permits for that work are scheduled to be approved in August, she said. All of the demolition is still on track to be completed by 2018, Robinson-Leach said.