Simulator lets you experience Bay Bridge detour


The last quarter-mile or so of the eastbound lanes as they touch down in Oakland have to be moved slightly to the south. That will allow room for construction work to go more quickly than originally planned, so both directions of the new bridge will open simultaneously, in 2013, rather than staggered into 2014.

To help motorists make the transition, Autodesk took 3D modeling technology used by Caltrans engineers, and made some tools for the public. The driving simulator at Autodesk's One Market office is open to the public on Wednesdays so you can practice with a virtual drive of the new alignment. And for the first time, motorists with an iPad can download the simulator, using the iPad as a steering wheel, though it takes some getting used to.

"It's only now at the point in time where we have a platform, like smartphones and iPads, that we can do this final jump where we're basically coming out of the showroom where we have a simulator that you can ride in and taking it to your homeroom," said Bart Ney of Caltrans.

Caltrans could have used technology like this when it put in the S-curve detour in 2009. That change resulted in multiple accidents and one death.

The Memorial Day alignment will be cake by comparison.

"It's one of the few times that a temporary detour actually improves your commute," said Ney.

Some eastbound lanes will be closed overnight starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29, reopening at 5 a.m. the next days. There will not be any work during the day.

For more information on the simulator app and other ways to get a 3D look at the bridge construction and plans, click here.

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