This morning, an oversight committee decided that the new east span of the Bay Bridge will open on September 3, after Labor Day weekend. The decision means that the Bay Bridge will CLOSE TO TRAFFIC on August 28 at 8 pm and remain closed for 5 days, until 5 am September 3!
“The old bridge is not safe in case of a major earthquake,” said Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “Our interest is moving traffic onto the new span as quickly as possible.”
The move came after federal officials gave their approval for a temporary plan to shore up the snapped high-strength steel rods that hold seismic stability structures together. A trio of independent authorities also found that the fix is more than adequate to allow traffic to move onto the new bridge while the permanent retrofit is completed, which is expected to be done by December.
“We see no reason to delay the opening of the bridge to traffic,” said Vincent Mammano of the Federal Highway Administration.
Traffic in the Bay Area is lighter during Labor Day weekend, which should allow the work to move faster because approximately 2,500 truck trips will be needed to haul paving materials to the Bay Bridge. During a nonholiday week, traffic congestion would slow the process. SFGate.com continues:
The work itself will take place at both ends of the new span, as crews work to connect it with the existing roadway. But while the work is time-consuming, it’s not especially complicated, which makes it more likely that the crews can meet that early Tuesday morning deadline.
The 1989 Loma Prieta quake pushed the Bay Bridge well beyond its original construction parameters, said Brian Maroney, a Caltrans engineer.
The new bridge is designed to withstand the largest earthquakes within a 1,500-year period, far beyond the capabilities of the existing span, he said.
“Frankly, 80 years ago the concept of seismic design was lacking,” Maroney said.
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