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Shims successfully installed on new Bay Bridge

August 19, 2013 5:26:39 PM PDT
The Bay Area is counting down to the new Bay Bridge opening and over the weekend, a piece of equipment was installed to make sure the bridge is safe. The bridge will be shut down for five full days beginning next week on Wednesday night. That means if you haven't already, it's time to start making alternate plans.

Bay Area residents have been through a full Bay Bridge closure before, but never with a brand new bridge waiting on one end of it. In 2007, 30,000 Tennessee Volunteer football fans were given months advance warning of a closure. This time, it's Northwestern, and their notification went out Monday only after ABC7 News asked if the call had already been made.

Fans notwithstanding, that closure is coming one week from Wednesday.

Green scale models show the shim support system that is allowing the new Bay Bridge to open as originally scheduled after Labor Day weekend. The shims are a backup to broken bolts in a part of the bridge designed for earthquake safety.

The shims were successfully installed over the weekend and the bridge is on track for full closure next week on Wednesday night. Transportation officials are counting on Bay Area commuters having learned something from the last two full closures in 2007 and 2009.

"On the other hand, we don't have nearly as much time for the public information campaign anywhere near the magnitude as was conducted in 2007 and 2009. So in that sense, it's probably a bit of a wash," said John Goodwin with the Bay Area Toll Authority.

If you must drive, the obvious alternate to the south is the San Mateo Bridge. "We normally go over the San Francisco bridge every morning but now that with this closure and stuff like that, we're going to have to go around," commuter Robert Morris said, adding that it would add "at least another hour to our commute."

To the north, it's the Richmond-San Rafael and Golden Gate, where there is now no stopping at the all-electronic toll gates. Commuters who don't already have one are being encouraged to get a FasTrak account. The ferries will have additional service and BART will have hourly overnight service from 14 stations.

The opening of the new bridge will be a relief for many commuters in many ways, but Deacon Little wants to know it's safe first. "Hopefully, I won't be one of the first cars, but I'll be across it," he said admitting he doesn't want to be first. "Not one of the first. I'll let somebody else take the chance."

During the Bay Bridge closure, BART will provide 24-hour service beginning Wednesday night and continuing each overnight, except for Monday. During the overnight service, trains will run on an hourly basis between 14 stations:

Embarcadero
Powell St.
24th St. Mission
Daly City
San Francisco International Airport
El Cerrito del Norte
Downtown Berkeley
MacArthur
12th St./Oakland City Center
Coliseum/Oakland Airport
Bay Fair
Dublin/Pleasanton
Concord
Walnut Creek

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