BART to fill in for Bay Bridge during closure

Despite an expected influx of riders and some minor mechanical problems that caused regional delays last week, BART is fully prepared to increase services during the upcoming Labor Day weekend while both directions of the Bay Bridge are shut down for more than three days, officials said.

On Friday afternoon, BART trains were delayed for up to 30 minutes in the East Bay after a cover board that protects an electrical rail broke and trains were forced to operate on one track, BART spokesman Jim Allison said.

A separate switching problem between the San Francisco International Airport and the Millbrae BART station also delayed trains Friday afternoon. Trains traveling to Millbrae on the Dublin-Pleasanton line had to turn back at SFO and travelers were transferred to shuttles.

During this weekend’s Bay Bridge closure, BART plans to add more trains, as well as overnight service to 14 of its 43 stations. The transit agency does not know how many passengers are likely to use the system during the three-day holiday weekend, but there are 250,000 to 300,000 vehicles that cross the bridge connecting San Francisco to the East Bay each weekday, according to Caltrans, which oversees state highways.

BART is also expecting an influx of people Friday night, as a Beyoncé concert at Oracle Arena in Oakland and an Oakland A’s ballgame are expected to attract large crowds.

Since BART has known about the bridge closure for weeks, Allison said the system has had ample time to prepare and make sure the trains and tracks are in good shape.

“It’s just a matter of luck whether another cover board breaks, and we’ve always got crews on hand,” Allison said. “We’re confident we’re ready.”

Caltrans is closing both directions of the Bay Bridge from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, so workers can demolish a football-field-size portion of the upper deck and install a new seismically upgraded structure in its place.

The last time the Bay Bridge was entirely shut to traffic was after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. BART provided extended service for passengers for a month after the earthquake, Allison said.

arocha@examiner.com

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