Bay Bridge Steel To Become Public Art

San Francisco decided to give away old and rusted portions of the Bay Bridge on June 16, but there was one catch; you need to be an artist. Oh, and you needed to be able to haul it away yourself.

Much of the old steel from the Bay Bridge was sent off to Asia to be scrapped, but some of it was retained, hoping that it would take on a new life in the city. About 450 tons worth of steel was kept and distributed to local artists, hoping they would turn it into beautiful public art pieces.

Not all of it is being used in as artsy of a way as you might imagine though. Artist Katy Boynton, for instance, has a concept to turn 33 tons of Bay Bridge steel into a gray barrier to install at a Pier 3 parking lot. She claims they're utilizing the metal for public safety. She will also use some for more standard art pieces, like a giant wind chime.

There were over 50 applicants to claim steel, and only a few were selected. Those who did get selected seemed to be ecstatic at the opportunity.

Another recipient was Tom Loughlin, who collected 36 tons. He wants to create a Stonehenge-like piece on the renovated Treasure Island.

The steel was originally paid for by toll payers on the bridge, and now they're getting a pretty good return on investment since the steel will live even beyond its life as bridge metal. It'll live on in the public eye as art pieces. If they had chosen to go the route of selling the scrap, they only would only have probably made about $160 a ton anyway, so they think it's a good investment into the city landscape.

There were plenty of other artists who collected as well but were not interviewed about their plans, so expect some surprise Bay Bridge pieces to pop up in the San Francisco area in the near future.


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