The Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco with Oakland (and most of the continent) has been closed for several days. SF Chronicle :
The bridge was shut down Tuesday evening. High winds and heavy
traffic loosened a pair of tie-rods and a steel bracket that was
installed Labor Day weekend to take pressure off a fracture discovered
in a structural beam – an eyebar – on the eastern span.
The 5,000-pound assembly crashed onto the upper deck, totaling three cars during the evening commute.
Bob Ney of Caltrans deserves an award for Least Comforting Analogy about Major Infrastructure:
Ney compared the scenario to a metal paper clip that snaps when it’s repeatedly bent.
Twenty years ago today, the Bay Bridge was also closed, and had been since the Loma Prieta Earthquake of October 17, when a segment of its upper deck collapsed onto the lower deck. That one took more than a month to repair. I lived in San Francisco then, and remember the odd calm to the city, the noticeably lighter traffic, as though some sort of extended holiday were in progress. Of course, it was hard to separate the effects of the bridge closure from the many kinds of post-traumatic stress regarding the quake itself.
Still, I’m curious. Poking around the main San Francisco blogs and newspaper sites today, I’m struck at what minor news the closure of the Bay Bridge seems to be. Bay Area readers, please comment: Has the city really adapted so smoothly? Is nobody screaming that their businesses will go under if this goes on another day?
And are we perhaps collecting data on economic impacts that might be relevant if someone proposes, someday, to convert even one lane of the bridge to non-car use?
As a local observer of the mess I see a sort of “C’est la vie.” attitude towards the situation. As a rail fan and transit watcher I am struck by the value of redundancy. Car drivers have both a northern bypass (Richmond-San Rafael Bridge + Golden Gate Bridge) and a mid-bay bypass (San Mateo Bridge). Transit riders continue to have choices among rail (BART, Caltrain, etc.), buses (there’s a link across the San Mateo Bridge), and ferries. The bus lines that have been “broken” by the bridge closure have switched to being BART feeders.
I have not heard much about telecommuters but I suspect there are more of them due to the closure. Another segment that hasn’t been heard from are the “reversers” and the “rotaters” – commuters who travel out from San Francisco or who commute around the core (e.g. from Fremont to Walnut Creek). It’s kind of neat having a front row seat to this mess.
It has been big news, but on the seventh day of closure there’s not much left to say. “Bay Bridge continues to be shut, just like yesterday” isn’t much of a story.
Thank goodness it’s open again.
I agree with the comment above – it’s been the major local news story for the week, but people realize there’s not much they can do about it except wait and hope it’ll open soon (it finally did this morning).
The calm you experienced in 1989 was present here again last week. I work South of Market, near where the bridge touches down, and it was pleasantly strange to hear tree leaves rustling in the light breeze. It makes you realize how much noise that thing generates every day.
For the bridge junkies among us :
S.F.Chronicle’s Bay Bridge portal page