Caltrans: Bay Bridge on schedule for Tuesday opening


There was heavy traffic around the Bay Area because of the closure. Drivers faced long traffic delays during the Friday evening commute. Caltrans assures us the traffic backups are short term pain for long term gain as they do massive amounts of work to get the new bridge ready.

The closure was also felt at businesses along the Embarcadero in San Francisco Friday night.

"We usually stay busy until 9:00 p.m., sometimes we have to tell people that we're closed because they keep coming in. But as you can see tonight, by 8 o'clock it's a crawl," said Market Bar manager Ernie Vernengo.

Work readying the new eastern span for traffic is going well but it's too soon to say if it might open early.

"Folks are probably going out of town for their Labor Day weekend," Caltrans spokesperson Andrew Gordon said. "So we're saying still plan your travel based on a 5 a.m. opening. We don't want people planning travel based on some phantom earlier opening date that has not been confirmed. No other date and time is out there yet. Right now we are still saying 5 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Caltrans is making the most of the bridge closure to work on the old, but seismically sound western span of the Bay Bridge. With only one lane of active traffic for Treasure Island residents and plenty of sunshine, workers can accomplish in four days what would normally take four months.

"That includes bridge painting, that includes replacing all lights, that includes drain clearing, that includes any kind of pavement work we have to do, graffiti removal," Caltrans spokesperson Bob Haus said.

These workers are suspended from a tower on a platform with engines that clamp down on the cables and carry them up and down like an elevator. They were busy repairing a line that supplies air for a painting machine.

On a structure this massive, it can be hard to see the decay. It has to be inspected top to bottom every two years. It's a project that's going so much faster, and is therefore less expensive, with the closure.

"So this is a great savings for us and the taxpayers," Haus said. "It's safer, we save money, we save time, and we save the risk of injuries for our workers."

On the other side of the Yerba Buena Island tunnel, work marches on to get the new span ready for traffic.

Paving on the westbound deck is done and the lower deck is almost done.

Demolition of the old deck to make way for the bike path is also almost complete.

Grinding and paving at the toll plaza is wrapping up and transitioning to striping,

"You know, it's been said that it's not as dramatic as work that's happened during past closures, but it's equally important," Gordon said. "I mean, this is the last, you know, major hurdle we need to get over to get this bridge open."

A ceremony will be held Monday for the Bay Bridge's new eastern span. It was announced late Friday that Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will cut the chain at the special event.

Meanwhile, BART ridership is at near-record levels going into the holiday weekend, as commuters shed their cars for trains in the bridge's absence.

BART spokesman Jim Allison said the system handled a little more than 475,000 riders on Thursday, eclipsing the previous No. 3 ridership record by about 30,000 riders.

Treasure Island residents deal with bridge closure

You may be wondering about those people who live and work on Treasure Island. How are they getting on and off the island? It is possible, but a bit tricky.

Most everyone here has one of these -- a placard that gives you access to the western span of the Bay Bridge. On Saturday, 200 guests of a wedding will be using this to get to the reception.

Bride-to-be Stacie Wong and her bridesmaids have been busy preparing flowers for her big day. She and her fiancé Calvin Ly are having their wedding reception Saturday at the Winery SF on Treasure Island.

Their guests will be given a pass allowing them access to the western span of the Bay Bridge, but it's still going to be a bit of a challenge for some.

"They were worried how are we supposed to get there, can we still take the eastern span coming from the East Bay to Treasure Island and obviously we told them no, so they were concerned but you know they're close enough to understood and be willing to make the trip," Ly said.

Refija Hodzic isn't willing to make the trip to her job in the East Bay. She lives on Treasure Island, but works at Alta Bates in Berkeley.

"I'm supposed to be back to work on Sunday and I have to take Sunday and Monday off instead of dealing with BART and the BART doesn't stop at like on every stop and it's too early so I decided to take a couple days off," Hodzic said.

The lack of tourists on the island has hurt many of the businesses there. Island Cove Market has seen a drop in customers since the bridge closure. But Dan Bouthot likes the peace and quiet. He takes Muni to his job in the city.

"If anything, it's made things easier because now there's no other traffic on the bridge and taking the Muni bus in, it's smooth sailing," the Treasure Island resident said.

At least one person seeing the bright side of the Bay Bridge closure.

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

Copyright © 2024 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.