Bay Bridge closure forces motorists to other bridges

Traffic increased on other Bay Area bridges this holiday weekend, as drivers detoured around the closed eastbound span of the Bay Bridge, but transportation officials declared the shutdown a success overall.

“Things are going extremely well,” Caltrans project engineer Ken Terpstra said. “We’re making tremendous progress.”

The Golden Gate Bridge had to accommodate an influx of traffic heading north from The City by opening an additional northbound lane on Saturday and Sunday, said Mary Currie, a spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. Some of those vehicles were traveling north to make an eastern crossing over the San Rafael-Richmond Bridge, Currie said.

“[There were] a number of phone calls from people upset with us,” Currie said. “We’re a smaller bridge. We did the best we could.”

The traffic backed up into the Marina district’s Doyle Drive onramp, prompting the opening of a fourth northbound lane just before noon Sunday, Currie said. On a normal day, three lanes are open in both directions.

More than double the usual amount of vehicles crossed the San Mateo Bridge Saturday as compared to a normal Saturday, Cobb said.

Meanwhile, traffic moved briskly westbound on the Bay Bridge, with only about half the normal number of vehicles headed into The City, officials said.

This Saturday around 5:30 p.m., roughly 3,400 vehicles an hour headed west across the span, Terpstra said. Typically, 7,100 are going into TheCity on a Saturday at that time.

“I think we got the information out” about the bridge closure, said Caltrans spokesman Steve Cobb. “A lot of people were not going [to the City] because it’s harder to get back.”

BART had not yet calculated the number of passengers riding its trains over the weekend as of Sunday.

The commuter rail agency offered 24-hour service at 14 of its stations, financed by Caltrans, as an alternative for those needing to cross the Bay.

The lower deck of the Bay Bridge is closed until 5 a.m. Tuesday as part of a massive construction project designed to make the span safer in the event of an earthquake.

mcarroll@examiner.com

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