Oakland, Calif. — Caltrans engineers outlined plans for the next phase in demolition to the Old Bay Bridge.  Starting early 2016, entire pier-to-pier sections of the old bridge — more than 500 feet long — will be lowered onto barges that will ferry them to shore for dismantling.

Dismantling of the old Bay Bridge seemed gradual since traffic was shifted to the new bridge on Labor Day 2013. That changed with the implosion of Pier E3, the largest of the underwater concrete piers supporting the Depression-era structure. Many in the Bay Area watched in person, online or on television as hundreds of small charges collapsed the concrete-and-steel structure into its own foundation on November 14.

The next phase of the historic dismantling project will unfold as soon as late January or early February when crews will cut the first of five 1,950-ton sections of the old structure free of its piers and lower it 180 feet to barges below. The exact date for the event will depend on weather conditions.

“Lowering these spans will represent the largest sections that will come down during the demolition of the eastern spans,” said Principal Construction Manager Steve Whipple. “The actual lowering will take roughly eight hours and is very dependent on wind, rain and wave actions.”