Placing the Penultimate Pile

No, the Bridge Project team didn’t lose a bet that forced us to use the word “penultimate” in the headline. As the project team huddled about the timing of the placement of the second-to-last (i.e. penultimate) pile to capture the above photo, the words “placing the penultimate pile” just rolled off our tongues. (The proper term is placing concrete, not pouring.)

As the Bridge Project heads toward completion next year, the construction team has been checking off milestones right and left. In the coming days, the team will finish one of its greatest milestones: placing the last of the 352 underground piles on top of which the superstructure of the new bridge has been and will be continue to be built. In the picture above, the column of rebar in the middle extends deep into the group and was encased by the tube-like casing (being lifted) to enable the placement of the concrete.

Piles are built in precise clusters to support the bridge columns and two towers. Connecting most of the more than 100 columns to their pile clusters requires construction of pile caps. These large reinforced concrete slabs – some the size of small buildings – are built atop the pile cluster to evenly distribute the weight of a column into the piles.

This penultimate pile, and the final one that will follow in the coming days, will help support one of the final columns on the Bridge Project, another milestone that is fast-approaching. These final columns are being constructed in the space created by the demolition of the old northbound 710 connector ramp. They will support a new off-ramp from the eastbound decline into the city via Ocean Boulevard or Port terminals via Pico Avenue.