New San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens at last to replace the one damaged in 1989 earthquake after 12 YEARS of construction
- The $6.4 billion bridge is designed to withstand the strongest earthquake estimated by seismologists to occur at the site over a 1,500-year period
- The new span replaces a structure that was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake
- Officers led a line of drivers across the bridge at about 10:15 p.m. Monday, some seven hours before the planned 5 a.m. Tuesday opening
- 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
By Associated Press Reporter
PUBLISHED: 16:06 GMT, 3 September 2013 | UPDATED: 23:33 GMT, 3 September 2013
The new $6.4billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has been opened to traffic after years of delays and cost overruns, carrying its first drivers across the bay late Monday night just hours before the beginning of the work week.
The reopening came after the California Highway Patrol conducted a final security check and toll takers resumed their positions following a five-day closure as crews completed striping, railing and other final details on the new gleaming white span.
Cars began lining up hours earlier in an attempt to be among the first on the new span, and CHP officers led a line of drivers across at about 10:15 p.m., some seven hours before the 5 a.m. Tuesday reopening that was estimated before the closure.
A group of police officers cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge after leading a procession marking the east span’s opening, in San Francisco on Sept. 2
Police motorcycles ride across the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on September 2. The span took nearly 12 years to build
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 and a beautiful example of public art
The new eastern span (left) of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge stands next to the older span (right). San Francisco Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom cut a chain with a blow torch to mark the opening
Open road: Traffic flows across the new eastern span of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge on 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 and 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.’US grandmother Diana Nyad, 64, tells how she pushed through…
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.
There was no public celebration with tens of thousands of pedestrians and fireworks as originally planned. 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 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.
The largest self-anchored suspension bridge in the world opened before Tuesday morning’s rush hour across San Francisco Bay, six years behind schedule and five times over budget
The new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge is illuminated. The new section of bridge has been under construction for nearly 12 years and follows years of political bickering, engineering challenges and cost overruns
Vehicles drive on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge in San Francisco, California on September 2, 2013
‘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.’
Heminger was among numerous officials who spoke at the event, which included a poem about the bridge by California’s poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.
‘(This project) has at times 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.
This photo shot on October 22, 1989 shows a collapsed portion of the Bay Bridge after the earthquake that rocked northern California
The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is pictured on October 28, 2009. The span was indefinitely closed after a set of cables snapped
Fireboats spray water during ceremonies beside the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Jan. 29, 2002, as construction was set to begin on the new span of the bridge
The western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is pictured in April 1984
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 will open with a temporary fix for the broken rods while the permanent repair, expected to be completed in December, is being installed.
Transportation officials approved the temporary fix last month and voted to open the bridge as originally planned around the Labor Day weekend.
But Gordon said Monday that there was not enough time for a public celebration.
Plans for such a celebration originally called for a bridge walk with more than 100,000 people, fireworks, a half marathon and a concert.