Bay Bridge officials, CHP prepare for closure

August 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The countdown to the opening of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is down to just eight days. The new bridge will open by Sept. 3.

Tuesday night, Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol are putting the finishing touches on plans for the closure of the existing bridge. That transition will require a five-day shut-down that begins Wednesday at 8 p.m.

When the original Bay Bridge opened in 1936, then Gov. Frank Merriam cut the ceremonial chain with a blowtorch. This time, it remains to be seen who will receive the honor, although there is a long list of worthy candidates.

"All the way back to the, you know, the origin story, the folks who were members of the engineering design advisory panel. You know, many of whom are now quite elderly," said John Goodwin of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The chain-cutting ceremony will commence on Monday, Sept. 2 at 3 p.m. Gov. Jerry Brown's office says he won't be there but the MTC says that anything is possible.

"You know, the idea of the governor, the lieutenant governor certainly has been broached. But there, as is so often the case with events like this, my guess is there will be multiple hands on that torch," said Goodwin.

If people are planning to try to be the last car across the old span or the first across the new span, they will have to deal with the CHP, who strongly discourages that kind of vehicular loitering. There are also factors that could affect the timing.

"The opening and closing times of the Bay Bridge are all completely organic. The CHP is going to be on hand to remind people that it is illegal to stop on a freeway shoulder for anything other than emergency purposes," said CHP Ofc. Daniel Hill. "People who decide to stop on the freeway shoulder for a non-emergency may be contacted and cited."

Officials are urging drivers to plan ahead and use public transportation or other bridges to travel across the Bay.

After the new bridge opens, demolition of the old one will begin in a few years.

And if you have to drive during the shutdown, download ABC7's exclusive Waze traffic app to get around the gridlock.


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