Demolition enthusiasts can mark their calendars for the next big event on the Bay Area’s infrastructure removal calendar. On Saturday, November 14, the largest pier of the old eastern span on the Bay Bridge will be imploded.
Caltrans inspectors decided to delay the implosion of the Pier E3 section of the old Bay Bridge, the largest of the old span’s foundations, until this coming weekend. The implosion was originally scheduled for last weekend, but Caltrans inspectors found unsatisfactory explosive packaging.
The event is currently scheduled for 1pm on November 14. However, the implosion could also take place earlier in the day around 6:45am or sometime the next day. Pier E3 is the equivalent of a five-story building weighing 20 million pounds.
The target implosion zone near Yerba Buena Island extends 50 feet from the water’s surface and 275 feet beneath the surface into the bay mud. The implosion is designed to destroy the pier above the bay floor, as well as most of the structure embedded in the mud.
Crews have spent the past year carefully dismantling the 77-year old East Span section-by-section, in roughly the reverse order of how it was built in the mid-1930s. The full demolition of the nearly 2-mile long original East Span of the Bay Bridge will take place in three phases over three to five years. If this technique works, Caltrans may use the same approach to remove all 20 of the other old bridge piers as well.
California Highway Patrol will be doing a rolling traffic break in both directions, and all boats will be kept away from this area. Caltrans has worked with several outside agencies to make sure the implosion’s impact on surrounding wildlife and infrastructure is limited. Harbor porpoise exclusion and behavioral response monitoring zones have been established.
While the event sounds spectacular, the reality is supposed to be pretty low key since most of the structure to be removed is located below the bay’s surface. There will be no eye-catching collapse or skyward shooting geyser, so enthusiasts should stay at home to watch it on TV…or the Internet.