Workers lifted the first section of one of the new Bay Bridge towers into place Wednesday, one of the most visible signs so far that the multi-year project to replace the aging eastern span is nearing its latter stages.
The afternoon lift of the 165-foot-tall section — a 1,200 ton striped piece of the tower that will be the centerpiece of the new span — did not interfere with traffic.
Four similar pieces are being hoisted into place using a floating crane that has been assembling sections of the parallel roadways since February.
The tower sections, which hail from China, are the first shipment of 20 sections that make up the four individual tower legs.
The steel section installed Wednesday departed from Shanghai on June 18 on its month-long voyage to Pier 7 at the Port of Oakland. Once the pieces arrived, inspectors examined the sections to make sure they were free of damage before barges transported the pieces to the construction site.
Construction on the first tower section is expected to last two weeks but will not affect traffic, officials said. The eastern span is expected to be complete by 2013.
Bay City News Service contributed to this story.