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Construction crews to begin installing main cable for new Bay Bridge span, longest of its kind

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The final look of the rebuilt eastern segment of the Bay Bridge will begin to take shape this week, with construction crews laying cable down for what will form the basis of the world’s longest self-anchored
suspension span.

Construction crews began installing cable Monday on the span, which connects Yerba Buena Island to Oakland and is 2,047 feet long. Unlike normal suspension bridges, which are bolstered by cables attached to anchorages on the ground, a self-anchored suspension bridge is supported by a single cable that weaves down and through the undercarriage of the span, reinforcing support through its own tension (much like the design of an arm sling).  The cable actually consists of 137 separate strands, which will be strung through the bridge one at a time.

The cable will replace the orange catwalks that have been in place on the bridge since August. The immense cable — it weighs 5,291 tons — will connect the span with a 525-foot-tall tower that looms over the rebuilt eastern segment. The cable installation work will take several months to complete, said Bay Bridge spokesman Bart Ney.

The $6.3 billion project to rebuild and rehabilitate the Bay Bridge began in 2002 after years of preparation. Delays have consistently pushed back the opening of the new span, but the project is now expected to be completely finished in 2013.