The new east span of the Bay Bridge under construction, with the current span in the foreground. The new bridge is a self-anchored suspension design and will be two miles long. Photos: Tracey Taylor

Short of a stroll on the structure itself, the best way to get up close to the new east span of the Bay Bridge is to take to the water. Berkeleyside recently joined a boat tour organized by the American Institute of Architects to get a unique view of the construction progress to date.

The tour was led by Donald MacDonald, principal at Donald MacDonald Architects, who provided design services for the new bridge, working with New York bridge engineering firm Weidlinger Associates; Jeffrey Heller, principal at architects Heller Manus; and Jordona Jackson of San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Seismic Safety Projects. Some information on the project can be found in the captions to the photos shown here. For updated news on the Bay Bridge, including construction cams, visit

The Yerba Buena transition span, also known as the "S curve detour", will be demolished in 2013 once construction of the east span is complete
The crane shown here working on a section of the bridge has a nickname: Left Coast Lifter. The bridge is an international project with the suspender cables coming from Korea, the cables from China, and the concrete from Stockton
The single tower on the new span will hold cables for the entire bridge and rises 525 ft high, the same height as the towers on the west span. The tower runs 120 ft deep into bedrock, while some of the piers required 300 ft of boring into stiff mud
The current east span will be dismantled and its steel parts recycled. The scaffolding supporting the new concrete east span will also be removed once the bridge's suspension system is in place

The aerodynamic design of the deck on the new span is partly a result of the need for the bridge to be able to sustain winds as strong as 65 miles per hour. The deck provides 170 ft clearance for ships and will include a bike and pedestrian path on one side. A study is currently under way to see whether a bike path might be added to the west span. This would also enable CalTrans to have a service lane
The Bay Bridge, completed in 1936, is the longest steel high-level bridge in the world and is on the National Register. As well as accommodating upwards of 270,000 vehicles a day, it is a habitat for cormorants and peregrine falcons, among others

In “Outposts”, Berkeleyside will occasionally venture beyond Berkeley to report a story that, while outside our normal geographical boundaries, we feel merits being covered as it directly impacts the people of Berkeley.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...