At 8:06 PM last night the Bay Area uttered a collective gulp as the Bay Bridge officially closed down for the long weekend. The closing will be the longest the bridge has been closed since the Loma Preita earthquake of 1989. Over the next four days, construction crews will complete an ambitious $140 million detour lane east of Yerba Beuna. They will work around the clock, severing a 3,300 ton double deck segment so they can slide in a new replacement that is 300 tons heavier. All of this must be accomplished 150 feet in the air, and before 5 AM Tuesday morning, when the post Labor Day commute surges through.
Early reports indicate that we may be able to swallow that collective gulp and let out a collective sigh of relief instead. In a region renowned for transportation hiccups, officials somehow managed to close the bridge in just 21 minutes, a whole hour and forty minutes ahead of schedule. Bart Ney from Caltrans told ABC7 that “our demolition crews worked through the night on cutting through the section that we have to move. Things are moving really well…and we are an hour and 40 minutes ahead of schedule, to the point that the demolition contractor took over.”
One of the primary worries shared by officials and commuters alike is that traffic will swell to unmanageable quantities on the two remaining bridges, BART, and the ferries. On average 260,000 cars and trucks pass over the Bay Bridge every day. To avert any ensuing commuter nightmares, Caltrans spent $1 million to advertise the closure. They thoroughly detailed the alternatives and urged everyone who did not need to commute to wait out the weekend.
Early reports confirm that traffic is holding steady on both the Golden Gate Bridge and BART. San Jose Mercury News and Contra Costa Times report a stretch of 101 in Marin leading to the Golden Gate Bridge that is experiencing light congestion, but nothing out of the ordinary. CBS5 reports that BART was not overly crowded, nor did commuters find difficulty parking at BART stations. A report from The Press Democrat says that volumes of traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge were up 50 percent between 6 and 7 am, hinting that many people arose early to travel. San Jose Mercury News confirms the same about BART. Officials believe these early commuters may have relieved much of the pressure expected for the peak morning commute. Time will tell if things play out similarly during rush hour.
To keep traffic running smoothly, numerous BART stations will remain open 24 hours including: Concord, El Cerito, Walnut Creek, Downtown Berkley, MacArthur, Oakland City, Bay Fair, Oakland Airport, Dublin, Embarcadero, Powell, 24th Mission, Daly City, and SFO Airport.
If your destination is further than a BART station, City Car Share and Zip Cars remind commuters of the numerous cars conveniently located at BART stations in San Francisco and throughout the East Bay.
Where to Get Your Updates
Around the clock construction deserves around the clock coverage. Especially if you are one of the civically minded commuters who plans to spend the weekend at home. The Appeal will keep you updated, but for more up to the minute coverage you can access live web feeds of the construction through both BayBridgeInfo and ABC7. Also check out newsworthy updates through Bay Bridge Info’s Twitter account.