Reporting by Patch staff
Extra ferry trips from Larkspur and Sausalito have been added as Marin residents and local transit officials brace for five-days without the Bay Bridge.
The bridge closure, which begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, will mark the end an era for the eastern Bay Bridge span. Construction crews will spend the next five days finishing the $6.3 billion, 2.2-mile span linking Oakland to Yerba Buena Island.
It took 11 years of construction to get to this point.
The original bridge took three years to complete and was built at nearly a sixth of the cost in inflation-adjusted dollars, but officials promise the new bridge boasts better views, subtler curves and two shoulders for stalled cars in each direction. And, of course, it is supposed to be seismically safer. It's expected to reopen early on Tuesday, Sept. 3.
During the closure, drivers are expected to use the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge to get to the city, which could cause heavy traffic and delays in Marin. Golden Gate Highway and Transportation District officials said drivers should expect delays of up to one to two hours in and out of San Francisco.
To prepare for traffic increase, the Golden Gate Highway and Transportation District has added ferry trips from Marin for commuters and weekenders. The extra trips include an additional late-night round trip Friday night between Larkspur and San Francisco and extra weekend trips from Larkspur and Sausalito (where there will be the annual Sausalito Art Festival).
When the Bay Bridge closed in 2009, the southbound traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge increased by 20 percent, or an additional 40,00 southbound vehicles, according to Golden Gate Transit. During the 2007 closure, the southbound bridge traffic increased by 22 percent.
Are you worried about Marin traffic during the Bay Bridge closure? Will it impact your weekend plans? Tell us in the Comments!
Bay Bridge Bicycle and Pedestrian Portion Expected to be Completed in 2014
As soon as the existing bridge shuts down, Caltrans crews will begin aligning the new span with Interstate 80 on both the western and eastern ends.
Engineers questioned the span’s safety after steel bolts that are part of the bridge’s earthquake-proofing cracked in March. But temporary fixes have met with approval from federal transportation officials and tests underway on the remaining parts suggest that they won’t need replacing, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The fasteners may not need replacing, but the whole bridge may be too small in 30 years, according to traffic experts, who predict that the 190,000 new jobs San Francisco is expected to add in the coming decades will put a strain on both the bridge and BART.
For its part, the transit agency is hoping the bridge closure will present an opportunity to shine after a summer of strikes and threatened strikes.
Perhaps by 2043 some commuters will also be able to ride their bikes between the East Bay and San Francisco. For now, bicyclists anticipating a ride across the bridge to Treasure Island will have to settle for a journey that only goes part of the way. The entire three-lane bicycle and pedestrian portion won’t be complete until 2014 or 2015. Still, the views from the completed section will be stunning. You can reach the bicycle lanes from the Bay Trail in Emeryville or Burma Road in West Oakland, according to SFist. They'll be open from sunrise to sunset.
And what will become of the troll statue welded to the old bridge after Loma Prieta as a kind of good luck charm? The Chron says that the troll’s fate is unknown.
There's no uncertainty about the fate of the old bridge, which will be demolished over the course of three years at a cost of roughly $250 million. Engineers will follow the original construction plans in precise reverse order so as to not loosen the wrong bolt at the wrong time and send the bridge plunging into the Bay.