With the shiny new span of the Bay Bridge complete, California is now in the throes of a second, parallel construction project — or deconstruction project, really. The old Bay Bridge span, some 58,000 tons of steel and 245,000 tons of concrete, must come down. This week, officials decided that some of the bridge’s steel will be set aside for public art in the Bay Area.
The old span, 77-years-old and decidedly not earthquake safe, is still made of valuable parts. Since its demolition began least year, steel from the bridge has been sheared to size and shipped off to mills here and abroad. Groups of local artists, however, have been petitioning to keep some of the steel here for art, so that a small piece of this once towering bridge might stay in the community.
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has now agreed to dedicate up to $US2.2 million to salvaging steel from the bridge for local artists. (Toxic lead paint has to be removed before the steel can be used.) That will amount to about 300 tons of steel in all, which is ultimately just a small piece of the once massive bridge.
Caltrans may start reviewing artist proposals as early as next year. Karen Cusolito, an industrial artist who is leading the steel reclamation movement, tells the East Bay Express she’s seen all sorts of proposals already, ranging from light poles to gazebos to a giant robot. A few tiny slices of the old Bay Bridge may soon find a permanent home on land. [East Bay Express]