Bay Bridge considering costly opening celebration


There are two major parts to the celebration planning. On one hand, there are logistics and public safety. That will certainly be paid for with public funding, toll money. The other part is the fun part, the party. It hasn't been decided yet what exactly the party will be comprised of, but it will be paid for with private funding.

Before the new Bay Bridge opens to traffic the Tuesday after Labor Day, it will be closed for four days to finish up a variety of construction projects and on Sunday and Monday, the public will be invited on to the bridge for a walk. There might also be a bike ride, a couple of runs, and a concert on Treasure Island, but that will all require lots of money. The Bay Area Toll Authority estimated $5.6 million for basics like transportation, sanitation, fencing and security.

The Bay Area Toll Authority wants to avoid the near-disaster of the 1987 Golden Gate Bridge Anniversary celebration where 300,000 people standing on the bridge all at once threatened to bring the bridge down. So next week, BATA will decide whether to approve spending that nearly $6 million on the same company that did the Giants victory parades, to provide transportation and public safety.

The rest of the special event planning and fundraising will be up to a non-profit, the Bay Bridge Alliance, formed last year for that purpose. "This is not just a once in a lifetime opportunity. This is a once opportunity," John Goodwin said.

"The 280,000 folks who use the bridge every single day and who've been waiting for this to happen for a long period of time, deserve a couple of days to celebrate this," said Jim Wunderman with Bay Bridge Alliance.

The $5.6 million in toll money will be coming out of the existing Bay Bridge construction project budget. That budget had a contingency just in case things went wrong, but things have gone right and they're planning to open earlier than expected. So, that part of the celebration is taken care of. But for the rest, the Bay Bridge Alliance thinks it would need between $4 million and $5 million to pull off all the different events they envision.

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