To Survive a Quake, New Bay Bridge Span Will Offer Least Resistance
SAN FRANCISCO — Venture deep inside the new skyway of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and it becomes clear that the bridge’s engineers have planned for the long term.
At intervals inside the elevated roadway’s box girders — which have the closed-in feel of a submarine, if a submarine were made of concrete — are anchor blocks, called deadmen, cast into the structure. They are meant to be used decades from now, perhaps in the next century, when in their old age the concrete girders will start to sag. By running cables from deadman to deadman and tightening them, workers will be able to restore the girders to their original alignment.
The deadmen are one sign that the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which includes the skyway and a unique suspension bridge, is meant to last at least 150 years after its expected opening in 2013. (The existing eastern bridge, which is still in use, will then be torn down.)
Every time I cross the Bay Bridge, I think back to the scenes from the 1989 quake when a section of the eastern span collapsed and cars were sliding down completely out of control. I am so ready for this replacement span to open.