How to Watch San Francisco’s Underwater Implosions
Two of San Francisco's Bay Bridge piers will implode later this month.
In San Francisco, work is continuing to demolish the remaining concrete piers of the 80-year-old eastern span of the Bay Bridge. On October 15 and October 29, two implosions are scheduled to remove underwater support piers from the 20th-century bridge damaged by the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. This section of bridge was replaced in 2013.
While it's a historical event—and many locals and visitors gather to watch the scheduled events—implosion spotters should be warned: The blast likely won’t be very big. In fact, the only visible evidence of the implosion will probably be the splashback from the underwater explosives.
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“This is not like Las Vegas where you see an implosion and there's a huge visual,” a bridge spokeswoman said at last year’s implosion. “This is not a tourist attraction. It's a demolition."
The splash, however, could still be pretty impressive—last year’s implosion of one of the largest piers required 20,000-pounds of dynamite and shot water over 100 feet in the air—and visible around the bay. On Saturday, October 15 at 11:30 a.m., Pier E5 will be imploded with 8,000-pounds of explosives. The removal of Pier E4 is scheduled for October 29, and will require approximately 12,000 pounds of dynamite.
Although Yerba Buena island will be closed to pedestrians, implosion enthusiasts should be able to get a good look at the waves from Treasure Island’s Pier 1.
During the implosions, California Highway Patrol will enforce a rolling stop to clear traffic from the area adjacent to the blast. BART Trains will be briefly paused from passing through the Transbay Tube, which connects San Francisco and Oakland.
After the October implosions, 13 piers will remain. Six are expected to be imploded before next fall, and the remaining seven should come down in 2018. These underwater explosions are always scheduled in the fall because wildlife is less likely to be affected at this time. Authorities have also placed a “bubble curtain” around the impact site to minimize effect on wildlife, and a floating sonar system may be used to repel marine animals.
For those who don’t want to leave their homes, the implosion will be livestreamed on the Bay Bridge website.