Bay Area Traffic

Bay Bridge less likely to reopen Friday morning

Friday, October 30, 2009
Bay Bridge, cable, accident, broken, Caltrans, BART, eyebar Bay Bridge

Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney announced late Thursday evening that they hope to complete their Bay Bridge repairs soon, but the bridge is less likely to reopen by Friday morning's commute.

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The bridge has been shut down since Tuesday night after repairs to earlier repairs on Labor Day fell apart and damaged several vehicles.

Once Caltrans completes their repairs, inspectors will come in to examine the work. If they give the OK, the California Highway Patrol will takeover and preprare to reopen the bridge.

Ney stressed that it is still uncertain when exactly the bridge will reopen and encouraged commuters to continue to make alternate plans for Friday morning.

Crews have installed four replacement rods, designed to reinforce a cracked eyebar. Each rod is 80 feet long and two inches in diameter. They will be seated in a steel saddle.

Unlike the original Labor Day fix, crews are taking additional measures to make sure the assembly does not fail again.

"We are isolating the tie bars, so they cannot vibrate and create friction that causes this metal fatigue and we have self-centered the nuts, so that the rod will stay in the middle and we won't have that type of binding happen again," Ney said.

Caltrans also expanded on the fact that, during their regular inspections of their original Labor Day repair, they did notice something was wrong prior to Tuesday's failure.

"In one of the latter ones, after the first windstorm we did identify that the rods were moving and we were in the process of designing this system already," Ney said.

With the failure and the bridge closure, Caltrans is losing massive toll revenues, as drivers turn to other bridges and other modes of transportation.

"It's not good on the revenue side, yesterday, with the Bay Bridge out of action, we estimate on the toll revenue side a loss of about $335,000," MTC spokesperson John Goodwin said.

"Caltrans is doing everything that it can to return the bridge back to a safe state. If that is not good enough for them, then the other thing that we are doing is we are bringing in third party groups to look at these things that we are doing -- to ensure that the industry believes that what we are doing is right," Ney said.

RAW VIDEO: Bay Bridge update

San Mateo Bridge traffic jam

Traffic on the San Mateo Bridge was Thursday and the commute started early. By 5 a.m., 2,000 vehicles were already on the bridge, three times the usual number at that hour during a regular commute day. By 6 a.m., bridge traffic swelled to more than 5,000 cars.

But that was exactly what the CHP and bridge authorities were hoping for.

"People are heeding our call about leaving earlier and give themselves plenty of time to get to where they're going," CHP spokesperson Mary Ziegenbein said.

The backup started on southbound Highway 880, as cars inched slowly toward Highway 92 and the bridge.

The CHP told ABC7 that traffic on the Dumbarton Bridge was much heavier Thursday than Wednesday morning.

Commuters who experienced big delays on the San Mateo Bridge were obviously looking for an alternate route, but Ziegenbein says the San Mateo Bridge was still hit hardest today.

"It was very heavy. Not a lot of crashes, but again a lot of motorists. We are just getting the safety message out about - just take your time and we know that tempers can run a little thin during this time, so we just want people to be patient," Ziegenbein said.

Bridge authorities helped accommodate the overload by opening all eight lanes at the toll plaza for this morning's commute. On a normal day, four of those lanes would be closed.

Traffic heavy again on the Golden Gate Bridge

Traffic was heavy on the Golden Gate Bridge Thursday morning as well, but bridge officials say it was moving.

"Anywhere from between two to three times our normal traffic depending on what hour we look at," Golden Gate spokesperson Mary Currie said.

Their big worry is the evening commute.

"Last night was a mess and we expect the same thing again today. It's a challenge when you only have six lanes to deal with and you have a demand in both directions," Currie said.

Officials urge commuters to use the Golden Gate Bridge either before 2 p.m. or after 7 p.m. in order to avoid back-ups. They say traffic on the bridge has been two to three times the normal amount. Drivers are upset not only because their commute has become longer, but also because it has become more expensive. "It took me about an hour and 45 minutes to get from San Francisco here to Emeryville," East Bay driver Calvin Lim said. "I have to pay twice the toll instead of paying once at the Bay Bridge."

New BART ridership record

BART is setting new ridership records as a result of the Bay Bridge closure.

437,000 people rode BART Wednesday -- shattering the old record of 405,000.

Ridership Thursday morning was 60 percent above normal. There were 50,000 extra riders by 10 a.m. and every hour since has been higher than Wednesday.

BART officials said they will continue running extra trains and more cars through Friday.

BART parking lots have been extremely full due to the increased number of riders. Riders are being strongly encouraged to walk, bike or get a ride to the BART stations. Unlike the Labor Day closure, BART will not offer overnight service. They say they need that time to do maintenance to make sure their fleet of trucks and trains is in good working order for the expanded service.

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