Caltrans officials are getting ready for the implosion of the largest support pier of the old Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge, which will take place Saturday.
The implosion of Pier E3 will most likely occur around 7 a.m., however in the case of an unexpected event, the implosion may be pushed back to 1 p.m., according to Caltrans spokeswoman Leah Robinson-Leach.
The six-second implosion will occur mostly underwater and nearby motorists will not be able to easily see or hear the implosion, however bridge traffic will not be allowed, resulting in delays on the bridge, according to Caltrans officials.
California Highway Patrol officers will set up rolling traffic breaks on both directions of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge and set up a 1,500-foot perimeter anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes before the implosion, Robinson Leach said.
Caltrans officials are hoping that traffic along the bridge will return to normal quickly afterwards.
“This is a highly orchestrated event with years of planning that have gone into it, and were looking at a successful completion tomorrow,” Robinson-Leach said.
Boats near the bridge will be diverted to about 1,500 feet from the area, Caltrans officials said.
Additionally, starting tonight, the bicycle path alongside the new eastern span of the bridge is set to close at 6 p.m. and will reopen after sometime after the implosion, according to CHP officials.
The implosion may also cause slight delays to BART riders, as BART will be holding trains at the Embarcadero and West Oakland stations for a maximum of fifteen minutes during the event, according to BART officials.
Although the underground Transbay Tube is not in danger of sustaining damage as a result of the implosion, Caltrans will be collecting vibration data from within the tube during the event, BART officials said.
In the rare event that significant vibrations are detected within the tube, BART officials will conduct the same procedures and inspections they would in the event of an earthquake, according to BART.
A heavy mat will be placed on top of the pier to contain any possible debris. Fine particles will form a cloud-like plume in the water as a result of the implosion and may be visible for hours afterward, Caltrans officials said.
Caltrans chose November for the implosion because that’s when there is the least impact on fish and mammals because many species, such salmon, herring and nesting birds aren’t around, according to Caltrans officials.
Although many fish species will most likely be killed during the implosion, officials with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission said it would cause less environmental damage than other methods of demolishing the pier.
After Saturday’s event, Caltrans will still be tasked with removing 21 smaller remaining support piers. Data collected from the implosion will have a “significant bearing” on how Caltrans decides to move ahead with removing the remaining piers, according to Robinson-Leach.
During the event, the public won’t have access to viewpoints on the eastern side of Yerba Buena Island. However, people wishing to watch the implosion live can do so online at www.dot.ca.gov/e3implosion/, according to Caltrans officials.
Daniel Montes, Bay City News