One of our exhibits in the Gallery at One Market is a model of a portion of the eastern span of the new Bay Bridge that is under construction.
When it is completed in 2013, the bridge will be the longest self-anchored suspension bridge in the world. In this case, the "self-anchored" term applies to the cable that is embedded in the roadway, wraps around the span, and reanchors in the roadway. The suspension cable is not anchored in the land.
In an effort to see Autodesk software in action and experience something while its becoming real, a group of Autodesk Gallery ambassadors took a tour of the bridge project. I was left with 3 main points:
According to geological experts, a major earthquake will happen in the Bay Area. It's no longer a question of "if," but "when." According to some predictive models, the Bay Area is already overdue. To minimize loss of life when it does occur, the Bay Bridge is being constructed to withstand seismic activity for the next 1,500 years. As such the most innovative and sophisticated seismic technology is being used in its reconstruction.
The Bay Bridge is among the top three most traveled bridges in the world. On some days, it is the most. It is estimated that 280,000 cars cross the bridge each day. Although seismic safety is of paramount concern, it is not possible to simply close the existing bridge while a better bridge is built. The new bridge must be built while minimizing the impact to existing traffic.
It's not just about function. It's also about form. Bay Area residents, well familiar with landmark bridges such as the Golden Gate, want an aesthetically pleasing structure. So the arduous task of "make it work" is complicated with "make it pretty too."
Given our company history, it is not surprising that Autodesk software plays a key role in the design of such a bridge; however, it also plays a key role in communicating bridge construction activity to the public. In the tradition of This is the house that Jack built..., the story is relayed as:
Big construction projects sometimes require bridge closures. Bridge closures are bad for business. People complain. Word gets to the mayor. The mayor calls the governor. The governor, as the head of public works projects, cancels the bridge closure.
This is the video, made with Autodesk software, that informed the public, who understood why the closure was necessary, so they didn't complain to the mayor, who didn't call the governor, who didn't halt the project, resulting in lower construction costs and on-time completion of the bridge work.
With shots taken by several ambassadors, I have some pictures from our tour on my Facebook page.
Facebook Photo Album (includes picture of Bay Bridge Troll)
Thanks to California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Public Information Officer, Bart Ney, who was our excellent tour guide. We understand what it takes to serve in such a capacity. The Autodesk Gallery at One Market is open to the public on Wednesdays from 12 pm to 5 pm, and admission is free. Visit us. Ambassadors will now be sharing first hand experiences when gallery tours get to the Bay Bridge exhibit.
Appreciating what it takes for our customers to do what they do is alive in the lab.