New Bay Bridge Still on Track to Open Tuesday

By: AP Email
By: AP Email
Daytime view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco seen from Yerba Buena Island

Daytime view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco seen from Yerba Buena Island

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Construction is on-track for an on-time opening of the new eastern half of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

During a news conference Monday morning, Caltrans spokesman Andrew Gordon said all major construction is wrapping up, but crews aren't done just yet.

They'll keep working through the morning and pause around noon to see how much cleanup work remains. Officials are expected to reveal at the opening ceremony at 3 p.m. Monday whether traffic will be able to cross the span earlier than the scheduled 5 a.m. Tuesday opening.

The California Highway Patrol says it won't make the exact opening time public, to prevent drivers from becoming traffic hazards by trying to be the first across.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Some cars will take a road test of the new eastern half of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, hours prior to the opening of the full span to the public after a five-day closure of the region's busiest bridge.

About 20 cars, ranging from vintage models to modern electric vehicles, are expected to take a spin across the span following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday.

Hundreds of workers have been working around the clock since the entire bridge was shut down on Wednesday night so the finishing touches could be put on the $6.4 billion project, Caltrans spokesman Andrew Gordon said.

He said the span should be ready to welcome traffic by 5 a.m. Tuesday. Officials were expected to announce an opening time after the invitation-only inauguration ceremony. Government officials, labor leaders, survivors of the 1989 earthquake that collapsed two 50-foot sections of the old structure and people who were alive when the Bay Bridge first opened in 1936 were expected to attend.

The new section of bridge, designed to make the span safe during future earthquakes, has been under construction for almost a decade and follows years of political bickering, engineering challenges and cost overruns.

Less steep than the old eastern span, the self-anchored suspension bridge with a looming, single white tower was designed to endure 150 years and withstand the strongest earthquake estimated by seismologists to occur at the site over a 1,500-year period.

The final steps have involved laying down new pavement, painting traffic lines, demolishing a 1,000-foot stretch of the old bridge and erecting traffic barriers that will direct drivers onto the new section instead of its predecessor, Gordon said.

Crews also are completing a temporary version of a two-mile path that will allow bicycles and pedestrians to share the bridge with cars for the first time starting midday Tuesday. As the existing span is taken down over the next six months, a permanent path will be installed that will carry cyclists and people on foot all the way from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens nearly 25 years after the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the old span. Here are some of the $6.4-billion structure's specifications:

- It is the longest self-anchored suspension span in the world (2,047 feet) and features a single, mile-long main cable connected to either end of the bridge's roadway that supports the structure's weight.

- 200 steel suspender ropes attached to the span's main cable and roadway complete the span's self-anchoring system, compressing and lifting the roadway into place.

- The main tower is 525-feet high and comprised of four legs designed to move with the shaking of an earthquake. The legs are held together by "shear-link" beams designed to take the brunt of quake damage and be easily replaced.

- The main tower's foundation is anchored by 13 concrete pilings driven about 200 feet into the bedrock beneath San Francisco Bay.

- A bicycle and pedestrian path that connects Oakland to Yerba Buena Island will be only partially open at first while crews demolish a section of the old bridge so the final path to the island can be completed.


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