Time lapse images from the foot of the bridge show the progress Caltrans has made over the past several weeks in constructing a detour that is due to open early Tuesday morning.
The CHP planned to begin restricting traffic around 7:30 Friday night. Construction vehicles have been lined up on either side of the westbound lanes waiting to roll into action the moment the CHP says the bridge is clear.
"It's the CHP's role to restrict the feeder lanes that actually bring traffic towards the Bay Bridge toll plaza. We get a little bit of a queue, we sort of drain that queue, let everybody that's in there get out of it, and then once they've completely secured the bridge, they turn it over to Caltrans and we go," BART spokesperson Bart Ney explained.
The westbound bridge needs to be closed so Caltrans can finish a detour that will be in place until the new bridge opens next year. The work involves shifting westbound lanes slightly to the south. Some of the new lane striping is already completed. This weekend's work includes paving, demolition, and finishing the striping, because they cannot paint those stripes in the rain.
The weather could have postponed the closure.
"It's sustained rain that would give us a problem," Ney said. "But we're not seeing that and we feel really comfortable that we're going to be able to through this weekend with the time we're seeing and get the work done. We do see a little bit of rain tonight that might slow us down, but we should be able to pick that work up tomorrow," Ney said.
The westbound bridge is scheduled to be closed from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Tuesday. There will be 24-hour BART service and increased ferry service. Caltrans suggests taking a look at 511.org for trip planning that involves heading west across the bay. Motorists should also use our exclusive ABC7 News Waze app. It uses the power of other commuters to show you where there are backups and which other routes to take -- which will definitely come in handy this holiday weekend.
When completed, the detour should not present any driving challenges.
"There are no decisional changes and the curve has actually been eased, so it's an easier turn. But anybody that sort of looks around when they're driving, they'll notice they've been slid to the side," Ney said.
This is the last scheduled bridge closure until Labor Day next year, when the new bridge is scheduled to open.
From the Bay Bridge's history of closures, drivers know that using the other bridges to cross the bay can be a very long haul. From the toll plaza to San Francisco is about 6.5 miles using the Bay Bridge, but it is almost 36 miles using the Richmond and Golden Gate Bridges. And, the San Mateo Bridge route is 46 miles.
The most direct route between Oakland and San Francisco this weekend will be on BART or a Transbay Ferry, but people who do not have that option or need to go to Treasure Island will want to put together a plan.
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
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
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