The seismic retrofit of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is more than an upgrade to one of the country’s busiest bridges; it is an epic transformation into a global icon, featuring some of the most cutting-edge and innovative engineering, construction and seismic technology.
The path forward has not always been an easy one. Public safety is of the utmost importance and prime motivation in building the new Bay Bridge. We have not forgotten the lessons learned from the Loma Prieta earthquake, or that the clock is always ticking.
The collapse of the Bay Bridge's upper deck at Pier E9 was the most arresting evidence that the bridge would survive the next massive trembler. The 250-ton deck section buckled and collapsed during the 7.1-magnitude quake, issuing a wake-up call for the entire Bay Area. While the East Span quickly reopened after a month of repairs, critical questions lingered: how could the Bay Bridge—an important regional lifeline structure— be strengthened to withstand the next major earthquake? Should the bridge be repaired or rebuilt? These were among the essential decisions to be made to ensure that the Bay Bridge would survive heavy seismic activity and provide access for emergency services and rebuilding efforts following a major earthquake.
The California Department of Transportation determined that the only way to achieve these goals was to build a new bridge. The region, working through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission with the assistance of the Department, developed the current design concept for construction of this iconic structure.
A world-class team of engineers, designers and construction crews have headed down a path that leads to Labor Day weekend 2013. That is when everyone's hard work, perseverance and determination will pay off, when the epic transformation of the Bay Bridge into a global icon makes its debit. This elite team has worked diligently to ensure that the retrofit and replacement of the bridge would survive massive seismic activity and provide access for emergency services and rebuilding efforts immediately following a major earthquake, thereby preserving the bridge's status as a lifeline structure.
There are a total of 20 construction contracts and four major structural components involved in the new East Span. The major structural components are, from West to East, the Yerba Buena Island Transition Structure, the Self-Anchored Suspension Span, the Skyway and the Oakland Touchdown.
Rebuilding the Bay Bridge is a monumental endeavor, in terms of both the hurdles we have overcome and the herculean feats we have accomplished. In 1936, cynics said building the original bridge was near impossible due to the impact of turbulent waters and gusty winds, not to mention the cost and how far the bridge had to span. The determination of those bridge builders proved the nay-sayers wrong, and so have we. From building the world’s largest self-anchored suspension span to developing state-of-the-art seismic innovations never before used in bridge building, we have done the near impossible. And much like the original bridge builders before us, we are making history.
- Connects San Francisco with the East Bay
- Opened November 12, 1936
- Comprised of two separate bridges, a tunnel, and a mile long elevated roadway
- Total project length (bridge and approaches): 8.4 miles (from the MacArthur Maze freeway interchange in Oakland to the end of the 5th Street off-ramps in San Francisco)
- Daily average number of vehicles that use the Bay Bridge: 280,000
- Daily average number of vehicles that use the Golden Gate Bridge: 100,000
- East Span damaged in 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake