A Caltrans spokesman said today that construction on the Bay Bridge’s new eastern span is reaching “another historic occasion” as workers finish the compaction of the main cable that snakes through the bridge’s tower and under the deck.

In a process that began April 14 and is expected to be completed by Monday, workers are using four hydraulic compaction devices to compress 137 individual steel wire strands into shape for the cable, which is nearly a mile long, Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said.

The cable weighs 5,291 tons, or nearly 10.6 million pounds, and is part of the new eastern span’s self-anchored suspension span, a 2,047-foot section of bridge east of Yerba Buena Island.

Caltrans says the section is the signature element of the new eastern span and will be the longest of its kind in the world.

Once compaction is completed, Ney said, workers will begin installing 114 cable bands that will permanently hold the cable strands in place and serve as anchor points for the suspender cables that will attach to the deck.

He said that when that process is completed, the cable will act as a giant sling, supporting the weight of the deck.

Ney said construction of the new eastern span, a $6.3 billion project that is intended to make the Bay Bridge more seismically safe, is proceeding on schedule and the new span is slated to open to motorists over Labor Day weekend in 2013.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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