Bay Bridge closure and retrofit construction Labor Day weekend

by Scott Sady

While most folks were shining up the barbie and heading for the hills for the annual Labor Day weekend, I was fortunate enough to get a call from American Civil Constructors (ACC.) They do the shiny, grooved, brownish road surfaces that you see so much of in the Bay Area and along interstate 80. The Bay Bridge was shutting down for the holiday weekend, and they along with many other contractors were going to rush onto the bridge, and in a marathon 3 days of 24-hour shifts, finish the last of the roadwork so that the new span could finally open to traffic on Tuesday morning in time for the commute.  This was the big push, the culmination of all their work on one of their largest projects and they wanted it documented. This is only a small sample of what I shot during a heated 24 hour period from Thursday morning until Friday morning. This selection of images reflects my personal favorites, not necessarily what may be best for the corporate brochure, though I certainly have those as well.

First a little backstory. In 1989, there was a 7.1 earthquake that dropped a section of the Bay Bridge. Since then there have been various stop-gap measures to keep it in service for the massive commute that happens each day. Then Caltrans started construction on the worlds largest self anchored suspension bridge to replace the decrepit span between Oakland and Treasure Island. This is truly an engineering marvel. Over its many years of construction, ACC did various bits of work on it, including most of the road surface. Then, in one final push, Caltrans shut the whole bridge down over the Labor Day weekend, 2013 and all the construction crews that had any work left to do took over.  Just navigating around the bridge was a unique hazard. One section was dedicated to resurfacing with ACC’s crews blocking off all but one lane sometimes and tons of heavy equipment moving about. And they weren’t the only ones. There were electricians with their many lifts, asphalt crews with their stinky tar, earthmovers, stripe painters, cement layers, sand blasters, bridge painters, demolition crews and who knows what else. Each had their areas to work, but they also had to get all their personnel and equipment through each others constricted spaces. Needless to say, unnecessary traffic would be a disaster. I was fortunate in that the company that hired me took the time to train, explain and provide me someone familiar with navigating a construction zone of that complexity.  Unlike the way I was treated covering stories like this when I worked for the media, (basically you were considered an idiot until proven otherwise and generally herded around like school children,) these guys had the savvy to tell me what I needed to know to do my job, then turn me loose, and the pictures reflect that.

Many more images can be found and/or licensed from my online archive, or simply contact me with any specifics.

View of American Civil Constructors surfacing work at the Treasure Island Tunnel during the closure of the Bay Bridge. Labor day bridge closure Thursday August 29, Friday August, 30, 2013. With ACC road crews.

View of American Civil Constructors surfacing work on the surface of the remaining span of the old Bay Bridge from Treasure Island into San Francisco. Labor day bridge closure Thursday August 29, Friday August, 30, 2013. With ACC road crews.

Looking up at the worlds largest self anchored suspension bridge span on the new Bay Bridge in San Francisco, CA. Labor day bridge closure Thursday August 29, Friday August, 30, 2013. With ACC road crews.

Fog on the old Bay Bridge in San Francisco, CA. This span is now closed to traffic for all time and being demolished. Labor day bridge closure Thursday August 29, Friday August, 30, 2013. With ACC road crews.

View of American Civil Constructors surfacing work at the Treasure Island Tunnel during the closure of the Bay Bridge. Labor day bridge closure Thursday August 29, Friday August, 30, 2013. With ACC road crews.

Breakfast break after working all night for American Civil Constructors surfacing work team at the Treasure Island Tunnel during the closure of the Bay Bridge

The special, long lasting surface applied over the existing concrete is one of the last steps for the ACC crews.

The special, long lasting surface applied over the existing concrete is one of the last steps for the ACC crews.

The surface to be coated must be specially prepared. Which means blowing off, hand cleaning, then coating with a special material before applying the polyester top coat (new road surface.)

View of American Civil Constructors surfacing work at the Treasure Island Tunnel during the closure of the Bay Bridge. Labor day bridge closure Thursday August 29, Friday August, 30, 2013

After the polyester surface is laid down by machine, it still takes a crew of many guys to carefully smooth, blend the edges and add friction material to it in the short time before it starts to cure.

View of American Civil Constructors surfacing work at the Treasure Island Tunnel during the closure of the Bay Bridge. Labor day bridge closure Thursday August 29, Friday August, 30, 2013

Construction worker humor inside the Treasure Island tunnel on the Bay Bridge.

new signs lay in wait to be installed

new signs lay in wait to be installed

Workers prepare one of the many segments for the temporary bike lane.

The grooved polyester surface of the new bay bridge was installed by American Civil Constructors crews.

The grooved polyester surface of the new bay bridge was installed by American Civil Constructors crews.

The grooved polyester surface of the new bay bridge was installed by American Civil Constructors crews.

Inside the bridge itself

Demolition proceeds on the old Bay Bridge, left, as the last few road signs are hung on the new Bay Bridge in preparation for a grand opening.

A view of Bay Area cargo shipping that will be nearly impossible to duplicate once the new bridge opens, looking over the Treasure Island harbor with Alcatraz in the background.

Reaching the top of the new Self Anchored Suspension span of the Bay Bridge after climbing a hand ladder nearly 500 feet.

View from the top of the new Self Anchored Suspension span of the Bay Bridge showing both the new and old bridges

Cliff pulls the protective packaging off the upper most security cameras on the new Bay Bridge Span.

Workers calibrate the security cameras on the new Bay Bridge

Lunch Break

The ACC construction crew takes a rare break for a company portrait on a recently completed section of road through the Treasure Island tunnel on the new Bay Bridge touchdown.

The Legendary Bay Bridge Troll, removed after a heated race from the old Bay Bridge Span by MCM construction crews. Since 1989, a small iron sculpture has lived beneath the upper deck of the eastern span, created by East Bay blacksmiths as a talisman against natural disasters like that year’s 7.1 earthquake that shook San Francisco and the East Bay. This is one of the first times it has been seen since then.

The new bike lane along the Self Anchored Suspension span of the new Bay Bridge, the largest of it’s type in the world.

The new bike lane along the Self Anchored Suspension span of the new Bay Bridge, the largest of it’s type in the world.

Demolition of the old Bay Bridge

ACC crews work all night over the labor day weekend to get the new bridge span ready to open.

ACC crews work all night over the labor day weekend to get the new bridge span ready to open.

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Fine Art Landscape Photography

Lake Tahoe Landscape Photographer

Scott Sady is a freelance and fine art landscape photographer based in Lake Tahoe and Reno. Scott specializes in Lake Tahoe landscape photography, Sierra landscape photography, Reno and Lake Tahoe stock images and freelance and photojournalism. Scott is available for freelance photography assignments in the Reno and Lake Tahoe area.