Bay Bridge 3D images on Google

January 12, 2009 9:47:07 PM PST
If you drive across the bay bridge, you can get occasional peaks at the construction on the new span, but now you can get a better view. Caltrans and Google have teamed-up to give you a 3D look into the future.

At Google's Mountain View headquarters, Goggle Earth co-founder and Chief Technology Advocate Michael Jones took ABC7 News to one of the newest places to be added to the browser, the future -- or at least the future San Francisco Bay, with a model of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

"It occurred to us that some things like a public project like this, that's absolutely committed and going through rigorous milestones, it's not as though it's done, but conceptually it's going to happen. It's not fantasy. It's the future reality," said Jones.

Until now, Google Earth had a policy of showing only completed structures, for an accurate picture of the earth. But along with adding 3D images, Google has decided to go into the fourth dimension -- time. The bridge is the future, Ancient Rome is in the past.

"I would like to do more of the past, more of the future, to make Google Earth not just everywhere, but every when. A time travel machine for people to understand their heritage, and their future," said Jones.

The bridge's journey to Google Earth began with spokesman Bart Ney leaving his utilitarian Caltrans offices for a meeting at Google's slightly more exotic digs. He took the digital 3D bridge construction models with him.

"So we kind of had this thing sitting on the shelf, we took it off the shelf, called the folks at Google and said can we come down and show you something?" said Ney.

Google Earth will be a powerful tool for Caltrans to reach the public, eventually providing a link to current information.

"When we do big things on the bridge like close it, like we will this year. We need to find ways to get out to people. And there's a huge audience already playing around with Google Earth," said Ney.

Google Earth tells us it's busy working on adding more of the past and future, but we have to wait for the future to find out what.