Bay Bridge commute backs up

Although westbound Bay Bridge traffic was at a slow crawl during rush hour Monday, officials say the backups were not as long as expected.

Changes to lane configuration were once again blamed for the slowdown, and as drivers adjust to the lane changes, detours and closures, delays will continue.

Officials said at the peak rush hours it took an additional 40 minutes to get over the bridge, while an hour delay was what had been predicted.

“We think during the week it will calm down as people get used to the new lane adjustments,” California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Shawn Chase said, adding that there were no abnormal problems on the bridge during the morning commute.

At the Folsom and Fremont Street exits two lanes now exit while a third rejoins the three westbound lanes that continues ahead. On Saturday and Sunday, Caltrans shut down the eastern span of the bridge between 11:59 p.m. and 10 a.m. while construction crews cut steel support cables and rerouted westbound lanes

Despite the delays, some Monday morning commuters were unfazed by the lane changes.

“It wasn't too bad,” said Jason Harnett, who drove across the bridge at 11 a.m. “I just kept going straight ahead. It's always under construction.”

A 9:30 a.m. trip from Oakland took Eisen West a little over an hour, slightly longer than usual.

“To be honest, I just kept going and didn't really get bothered,” he said.

Still, some commuters may have turned to alternative forms of transportation such as BART. After seeing close to 300,000 people ride its system over the weekend, BART spokesman Jim Allison said the system saw a 3½ percent increase in Monday morning's ridership from Monday, May 22. But it was not certain if the increase was due specifically to the bridge traffic.

“It's certainly a factor,” he said, adding that BART will not run 24-hour service next weekend since Caltrans will not be closing the bridge as initially anticipated. “But, there are all kinds of factors that come into play when you talk about ridership.”

sfarooq@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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