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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Photos Capture 15 Years Of Work On San Francisco-Oakland Bridge

Laborers carrying cans of Grikote anti-corrosion paste on the south-side span catwalk in the fog, 2012. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworkers Butch Madsen, Eduardo Jimenez, Johnny Albourne and Chris Wilcox installing bypass chord, Yerba Buena Island, 2008. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Marine superintendent Eric Edwards, pile drivers Cory Pakes, Dave Lang, Johnny Wong, Chris Puglisi, Jason Pleasants, and surveyor Terry Dennis installing final wale frame connector piece for E2 foundation, 2006. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworker Stan Dalie guides SAS OBG anchorage deck section #14E on the left coast lifter main fall hook, 2011. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworker foreman Carlos Valverde and ironworker Josh Galvan installing shear plate at tower foundation T1. ABF engineer Andre Markarian observes. 2010. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworker Jaime Barragan monitoring strand jack cable during the 4th lift, east shaft, 2011. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworkers Scott Greer and Anthony Volpe removing cable wrapping machine from south-side span at dusk in winter, 2012. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Pile driver James Lewis lights magnesium thermal lance for pile driver Doug Ailes to use to cut off steel grillage falsework at E2. Pile driver foreman Gordon Crocker and marine superintendent Eric Edwards watch, 2007. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworkers installing northwest chimney on top of the tower, 2011. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Pile drivers welding studs on E2 foundation, 2007. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Pile driver Mel Begin welding inside E2 foundation pile, 2007. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworker bolting gang installing 4" diameter saddle tie rods, tower saddle, 2012. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworker foreman Tony Costa and ironworker Ricky Chouinard maneuver a shackle into position on saddle lifting device, 2011. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworker Joe Bell and partner checking rebar measurements inside the tower foundation T1, 2007. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworker erecting gang installing chevron truss on temporary tower, 2010. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)Ironworkers C.J. Biskner, Matt Cochran and Jerry Kubala connecting 600-ton shackles and heavy rigging to OBG deck lifting frame lug, 2010. (Copyright © Joseph A. Blum)

California’s new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened last night, after 11 years of construction and a $6.4 billion price tag.

With a welding torch in hand, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom cut the chain as the San Francisco and Oakland mayors looked on.

The 2.2-mile span cost five times more than projected and replaced a bridge that was damaged in the 1989 earthquake.

Photographer Joe Blum has been there since the beginning. The retired boilermaker and welder has been documenting the project for 15 years.

His images are stunning, showing workers suspended from frightening towers, maneuvering catwalks, hanging cables.

But as he tells Here & Now, winning the approval of the workers wasn’t always an easy sell.


  • Joe Blum, photographer who documented construction of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
  • Kevin Karber, ironworker who worked on the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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