SACRAMENTO -- The state transportation department has adopted a new, emergency "flexible design" strategy to speed repair of the collapsed ramp in the Oakland freeway maze, Caltrans Director Will Kempton announced today at a Capitol news conference.

The "innovative" design procedure will result in construction of a standard, safe ramp but will depend on what a contractor -- once one is hired -- finds in the way of steel for the support structure.

"We're making a change in how we do business," Kempton said. "The contractor will have the ability to bring what steel they have available and incorporate that into the structure.

"That will help get over the issue of available materials and certainly any shortage."

A Caltrans' demolition contractor is working round-the-clock, under an emergency declaration by the governor, following damage caused by a gasoline tanker truck that crashed and burned. No one was killed.

Workers have finished demolition work on the upper Interstate 580 half of the job, which melted onto underlying Interstate 880 following the Sunday morning crash, officials said.

Inspectors today will finish examining whether the lower, heat-damaged I-880 connector is salvageable or will have to be replaced as part of the project. The decision will be made in coming days, Kempton said.

The state spent an estimated $2.5 million for a free mass-transit day following the accident, has allocated $4.3 million for demolition and has authorized about $2 million for traffic control, officials said.

The cash-strapped state expects to be reimbursed by the federal government for much of the cost of handling the situation and repairing the structure, since the damaged sections are part of the U.S. interstate highway system.

The Caltrans director said there's no projected reopening date but the government has essentially written a blank check to complete work as swiftly as possible, no matter the cost.

Kempton said no resources will be diverted from the ongoing work on the Bay Bridge, considered the state's No. 1 transportation priority. The bridge was damaged in a 1989 earthquake.