New direct approach to Bay Bridge finishes

April 11, 2008 1:05:05 PM PDT
Governor Schwarzenegger has used a blow-torch to inaugurate a new approach to the Bay Bridge. Caltrans thinks this is going to make it faster for you to get on the bridge in San Francisco.

The new section of the highway is scheduled to open tomorrow morning. Today it was filled with reporters and dignitaries who arrived to celebrate what they are all calling one of the biggest construction projects in state history.

Driving to the East Bay has been a dark experience thanks to the westbound traffic overhead. But for the first time in 70 years leaving San Francisco during the day will be filled with sunshine. A new extension moves cars out of the shadow of the Bay Bridge.

"Drivers will have a straight shot onto the Bay Bridge. We've had a jog in place for the last year that we had to put there - so that we could take traffic out of the way, so that we could demolish the old eastbound and build the new seismically safe structure," said Bart Ney, Caltrans spokesperson.

This new extension is on the San Francisco side, it's about one mile long and it starts at Fifth Street and it stretches to the base of the bridge. It cost $429 million dollars and created an inconvenience for those who live and work in the area.

"We used to have a parking lot over here, which was really convenient. Then that was eliminated, obviously due to the construction, a number of years ago, so that has posed a bit of a challenge," said Shannon Miller, San Francisco.

To thank the neighborhood for its patience the construction company is throwing everyone in the area a barbecue today.

"Its great to include the community and everybody is hearing about the Bay Bridge," said Shannon Miller.

The neighborhood is also invited to the approach's opening ceremony. Caltrans officials actually looked to the past for opening ceremony ideas and decided to have a chain cutting ceremony instead of a ribbon cutting - just like they did back in 1936 when they opened the bridge.

If only they would copy this idea from an old video about the Bay Bridge as well: "The people themselves demanded this bridge and in a few years they will own it, toll free, after a limited pay as you ride."

And we all know how that turned out. Right now there is no paint on the bridge and the stripes will be painted onto it. They will open it up sometime in the early morning tomorrow.


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