Bay Bridge construction running on schedule

February 18, 2012 7:21:56 PM PST
Caltrans said Saturday that around-the-clock work on the Bay Bridge is underway and running on schedule so far.

Crews worked all night Friday grinding up the old roadway. At 6 p.m. Saturday, they will start demolishing part of the old bridge structure and at 10 p.m. they will start striping new lanes.

Caltrans also said Friday night's closure of the westbound lanes went very well. It was no simple task to stop all the traffic at five different points, but the Bay Bridge toll plaza is now deserted. Traffic started slowing to a trickle a little before 8 p.m. The last car passed through at almost exactly 8:00. Dozens of CHP officers blocked off access to the bridge beginning at about 7:30 p.m.

Bart Ney of Caltrans said the CHP and motorists who listened to the warnings helped make it a smooth and quick operation. "There are so many different feeders coming into the Bay Bridge that it can take up to an hour for CHP to completely clear it, to take it to closure. So, we had so little traffic tonight that we were able to cut that time down to just 12 minutes," he said.

The first work being done is to the existing roadway. Dozens of workers are tearing up old asphalt to make the new approach. The roadway will be moved slightly to the south. "I think a lot of people won't even notice the difference because they don't have to make a decision. They're just going to follow the lines," Ney said.

The toll plaza was completely dark and there were no passenger vehicles anywhere to be seen Saturday morning. There are now more than 100 Caltrans workers and contract workers making the necessary changes to the roadway. Ney said the bridge will open again Tuesday morning at 5:00 if all goes well. "If we have a challenge with the weather, it's potential that we can push even beyond the Tuesday timeframe," he said.

This closure also helps with routine maintenance like painting and cleaning the bridge because they do not have to worry about traffic while work is being done. "This is the last planned closure that we have for the Bay Bridge until we open the new structure Labor Day weekend 2013," he said.

Caltrans says crews will be working 24 hours a day to get the work done. They say they want to get the bridge open as soon as possible, perhaps even earlier than Tuesday morning.

When talking about the Bay Bridge, the numbers are always staggering. The 3-day closure will cost the toll authority more than $1.5 million in uncollected tolls, but the bigger impact will be on people trying to get back and forth across the bay. The Golden Gate Bridge will be kept open and fully staffed during the closure and BART is running trains hourly during overnight hours all weekend, but drivers will still face a challenge.

When it came time to close the bridge, drivers who did not make the deadline had to find another way to the city, which brought many people to the West Oakland BART station. Most people seemed to be taking it in stride, even the people who live on Treasure Island where residents say they planned for the closure. They will just stay on the island or go into San Francisco because they can still use the bridge to get into the city. The problem is when they try to get into the East Bay or Oakland. What is normally a 10-minute drive home turns into something more like an hour-and-a-half.

BART

BART will run overnight service at select stations during the closure.
Stations on the El Cerrito - Dublin hourly service route are:
El Cerrito del Norte, Berkeley, MacArthur, 12th Street, Coliseum, Bay Fair and
Dublin/Pleasanton.
Stations on the Concord - SFO hourly service route are:
Concord, Walnut Creek, MacArthur, 12th Street, Embarcadero, Powell, 24th Street, Daly City and SFO
More information available at bart.gov

FERRY SERVICE

Alameda-Oakland Ferry, Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry and Vallejo Baylink Ferry will run additional ferries during the closure.
More information at eastbayferry.com and baylinkferry.com

AC TRANSIT

Transbay service will not operate over the bridge during the closure, but will maintain regular service in the East Bay by operating to and from West Oakland BART. Line 800 all-night buses will connect passengers with BART's special late-night service (except on Tuesday morning, 1am-4am) by operating to and from the 12th St. BART station in downtown Oakland. Visit www.actransit.org for details.

For updates on other transit options, including ferries, BART and AC Transit, be sure to visit 511.org or call 511 for real-time traffic conditions, detour routes and public transit alternatives. Check back often for the latest updates.

Ama Daetz, Heather Ishimaru, Sergio Quintana and Tomas Roman contributed to this story


Load Comments