Thursday, February 21, 2013

I'm torn on Bay Bridge Labor Day opening party

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
I'm torn about the San Francisco Bay Bridge opening party as currently planned for Labor Day weekend.  The "responsible" side of me is opposed to taking upwards of 5.6 million dollars in toll revenues to pay for the Labor Day event. The "party" side of me really wants to be one of the 150,000 people on the invite list.

As you may know, the Bay Bridge was first opened in 1936--thereby connecting Oakland and San Francisco. At almost five miles, it is one of the longest bridges in the world. The bridge is actually two spans. The western part is a suspension bridge running from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco. The  eastern span runs from Oakland to Yerba Buena (which is connected to Treasure Island) and is presently a cantilever bridge.

During the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, a 76 ft. x 50 ft. section of the upper deck of the eastern span crashed onto the lower deck. Temporary repairs were made, but it was deemed necessary to construct an entirely new span that would be meet higher seismic standards and that project has been underway since 2002. When the transition to the replacement span is completed, slated for Labor Day weekend, this new span will be what is called a "self-anchored suspension span." 

When the newly constructed span reopens, there is going to be a five day party--of which the public walk is part. 
Here's the schedule as it now stands:
  • Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. 8 P.M.: Bridge closes to traffic. 
  • Aug. 28 -Sep. 1: Final hooking up of the new span and preparation for the celebratory activities.
  • *Sunday, Sep. 1. Afternoon: Up to 15,000 bicyclists will be allowed to ride from Oakland to San Francisco (fee).
  • *Concert and fireworks show.
  • *Monday, Sep. 2. Labor Day. Morning: Footraces. First a race from Oakland City Hall to San Francisco City Hall. Tentatively followed by a shorter (10K?) run.
  • Time TBD: The walk for the 125,000-150,000 people who have requested free tickets in advance.
  • Tuesday, Sep. 3: The $6.3 billion new span will open to cars, trucks, and motorcycles. (S.F. Chronicle)
*These events will be paid for by private funds.  

It's estimated that 1.8 million of the 5.6 million will be used for transporting people from BART in Oakland to the east end of the span; shuttling is necessary because the bridge's entrance is inaccessible to pedestrians because of the freeway approaches. It remains to be seen if those wanting to return to Oakland will have free rides on BART or other transportation.

Golden Gate Bridge
Personally, I hope to secure a ticket for the walk, but I think that all funding should be from contributions and/or tickets should be sold rather than taking the funds out of the bridge toll receipts.

Note: The Golden Gate Bridge is much better known than the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but the Bay Bridge carries the bulk of the traffic--about 280,000 vehicles daily.

Susan "backpack45" Alcorn

3 comments:

Timecheck said...

Call me a grouch, but I say skip the celebration and dedicate any funds that were going to be spent on it to go instead to making a bike path on the west span a reality. (Right now it is not even on the books, only a path from east side to the island is planned).

backpack45 said...

No one has ever called you a grouch! If I had a choice, having a bike path would be my preference, too. I know the idea was considered, but don't remember hearing why it was rejected (probably would have cost more than the party).

Stephan White said...

It's estimated that 1.8 million of the 5.6 million will be used for transporting people from BART in Oakland to the east end of the span; shuttling is necessary because the bridge's entrance is inaccessible to pedestrians because of the freeway approaches. It remains to be seen if those wanting to return to Oakland will have free rides on BART or other transportation.


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