First cars cross San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge's new span

a a a a
Share this story

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- There was little fanfare, but the gleaming white and newly built $6.4-billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened to the public as vehicles began crossing it after more than a decade of construction delays.

Part old and part new, part permanent and part temporary, the hybridized bridge opened late Monday night in time for Tuesday's morning commute. The opening followed a five-day closure for the entire bridge.

Drivers began lining up their cars hours earlier in an attempt to be among the first on the new span, and CHP officers led a line of vehicles across at about 10:15 p.m. several hours before the estimated opening time and the expected commuter crunch of the beginning of the work week on Tuesday.

The new span replaces a structure that was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. It is designed to withstand the strongest earthquake estimated by seismologists to occur at the site over a 1,500-year period.

"Despite the journey's length, it has been completed before the arrival of our next big earthquake," said Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. "And thank goodness for that."

The bridge's pedestrian and bike sections were set to open later Tuesday.

At a modest inaugural ceremony, the new, self-anchored suspension bridge with its looming, single white tower was praised as a dramatic safety upgrade over its predecessor. It also was held up as a beautiful example of public art.

"I hope this is more than just connecting two land masses," said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. "I hope that the progress that's being represented at this moment is for a generation to dream big dreams and to do big things."

Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, cut a chain with a blow torch to mark the opening after leading those gathered around the bridge's toll plaza in a countdown to the reopening.

Plans initially called for a public celebration with fireworks, a concert, a half-marathon and more than 100,000 pedestrians crossing the bridge.

Instead, after years of delays and cost overruns, the opening of one of the state's most expensive public works projects was marked with a relatively low-key event that did not even include the governor.

"The project inspired me, challenged me, frustrated me and today, after seeing the final product, it impresses me with its beauty, its grace and its strength," said Brian Kelly, who heads the state's Business, Transportation & Housing Agency.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who was closely involved in planning the bridge when he was mayor of Oakland, was out of town and unable to attend the ceremony, said his spokesman, Evan Westrup.

The entire bridge closed Wednesday night so crews could do final work, and they were still striping, putting up signs and putting down roadway markers Monday, said bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon. Some barrier railing also needed to be installed.

The new section of bridge has been under construction for almost a decade and follows years of political bickering, engineering challenges and cost overruns.

James Ghielmetti, a member of the California Transportation Commission, said at Monday's ceremony that the bridge should not have taken so long to go up.

"California must do a better job going forward on all of our public works projects," he said.

In March, more than two dozen rods used to anchor the roadway to important earthquake safety structures cracked after they were tightened. The discovery threatened to delay the bridge's opening by months.

The bridge opened with a temporary fix for the broken rods while the permanent repair, expected to be completed in December, is being installed.

---

Associated Press Writer Andrew Dalton contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More National News
REPLAY: SpaceX rocket blasts off from Cape
REPLAY: SpaceX rocket blasts off from Cape

A SpaceX commercial rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral on schedule Friday afternoon and is heading to the International Space Station.

Woman finds body while hunting for Easter eggs
Woman finds body while hunting for Easter eggs

A Tennessee woman says she made a grisly discovery while hunting for Easter eggs in her back yard with her 3-year-old son: a dead body.

U.S. power grid vulnerable, experts warn
U.S. power grid vulnerable, experts warn

“The destruction of more than three transmission substations would cause long-term blackouts in many areas of the country,”…

Local runners make emotional return to Boston
Local runners make emotional return to Boston

Several local runners are heading to Boston this weekend to make a statement to the world.

Obama: Anti-Semitic Ukrainian leaflet sickening
Obama: Anti-Semitic Ukrainian leaflet sickening

President Barack Obama's national security adviser says anti-Semitic leaflets distributed in Ukraine were "utterly sickening"…

Ohio woman finds bird leg in Dole spinach bag
Ohio woman finds bird leg in Dole spinach bag

An Ohio woman, who eats a salad nearly every day and makes spinach smoothies, has lost her appetite for her favorite vegetable after making a…

Boston Marathon runner: 'Let's show these jerks'
Boston Marathon runner: 'Let's show these jerks'

After running more than 25 miles, exhaustion was setting in for Roswitha Goossens-Winter, but she was determined to complete the 2013 Boston…

Mich. judge to woman: 'I hope you die in prison'
Mich. judge to woman: 'I hope you die in prison'

If a judge could throw the book at a woman, he managed to do so Wednesday.

Confession: Dad kills son to play video games
Confession: Dad kills son to play video games

A 24-year-old Florida man confessed to killing his crying infant Thursday morning so he could continue playing Xbox games, according to the…

Baby squirrel gets cast for broken ankle
Baby squirrel gets cast for broken ankle

What a sweet little baby squirrel.