Bay Bridge closure this weekend

August 31, 2009 7:21:06 PM PDT
The Bay Bridge will be closed to traffic Thursday night at 8:00 p.m. through the entire Labor Day weekend. It will re-open by Tuesday at 5:00 a.m.

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The new piece of double-deck bridge sits beside the Bay Bridge, ready to be moved into place this weekend. It will connect the old bridge with a new section of detour. That detour will be in use for three to four years, while work is completed on the new bridge.

In order to move the connector into place, a section of old bridge has to be cut out first. The entire operation begins this Thursday at 8:00 p.m., closing the bridge in both directions until Tuesday at 5:00 a.m.

Caltrans says equipment pre-testing is done and they're ready to go.

"Most recently we've tested the hydraulics system that is going to do the lifting and rolling of the sections this Labor Day weekend. It is completely checked out, so we know we are getting the pressure levels we need to actually lift the bridge," said Bart Ney from Caltrans.

A Caltrans animation shows how a 300-foot section of the old bridge will be cut, lifted and rolled out of the way. Then the new piece of connector will be lifted and rolled into place.

"This is about as difficult as it gets. We are closing down one of the busiest arteries in the nation for four days to cut a section of a 70-year-old bridge out and roll a new piece in," said Ney.

Caltrans chose Labor Day weekend for the closure because it is one of the lightest traffic weekends of the year.

Anyone needing to get across the bay is being encouraged to take BART, which will be running 24-hours a day from 14 stations. Toll booths at the other bridges will be fully-manned.

"Every booth is going to be staffed all weekend long, there may be a handful that won't be staffed during the wee hours of the morning," said John Goodwin from MTC.

When the Bay Bridge closed for Labor Day Weekend two years ago, the Golden Gate Bridge and its Lombard Street approach were clogged much of the weekend, and the same scenario is expected this year.

Transportation officials say if BART is not an option, definitely plan on a longer trip in the car.

For transit options, visit www.511.org/baybridge

For the latest on the Bay Bridge construction project, visit baybridgeinfo.org

Follow updates on the bridge closure on Twitter at twitter.com/BayBridgeInfo

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