bbridgetower.jpgNearly 2,000 tons of steel is being lifted into place this week as crews construct the fourth segment of the tower on the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span, a Caltrans spokesman said.

The fourth segment, which will bring the tower to a height of 480 feet, is expected to be in place by midday Friday, Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said.

Workers started hoisting the first piece of the segment before 5 a.m. today and will be working nonstop until the job is complete, Ney said.

The first piece of the new tower section, which weighs about 500 tons and stands more than 100 feet tall, will take 10 hours alone to lift, Ney said.

The work will take place regardless of rain or cold weather. Crews may be battling extreme wind, and Caltrans will be monitoring the workers’ safety, he said.

This segment is different because the tower has grown in height and the pieces have to be lifted a greater distance, Ney said.

The work will be visible to westbound motorists on the bridge and could be distracting, Ney said. No major traffic problems occurred during the lifts of the previous three tower segments, but Ney is reminding drivers to focus on the road.

With 250,000 motorists crossing the Bay Bridge every day, Caltrans wants to take precautions to avoid slowdowns, including by raising awareness about the construction, he said.

Measures such as using a “gawk screen” to shield construction from drivers’ view would be ineffective because of the height of the tower, Ney said.

“We would have to screen the entire bridge,” Ney said.

“The best advice I can give is to check the website for updates and drive safely,” Ney said.

The fifth tower segment is scheduled to be lifted into place at the end of March or the beginning of April, bringing the tower to its final height of 525 feet.

Rachel Purdy, Bay City News

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