Big-rig crash cleared from Bay Bridge

All westbound lanes of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge were open shortly after 8 p.m. tonight, about five and a half hours after a
big-rig overturned mid-span and created a traffic nightmare.

CHP spokesman Shawn Chase said the vehicle was removed shortly before 8 p.m. and all lanes were clear at about 8:15 p.m.

The crash happened at about 2:30 p.m. when the driver of a Safeway truck tried to slow down as he entered the new S-curve section of the bridge but lost control and crashed, initially closing four out of five lanes. A second lane was then opened, allowing vehicles to move slowly by the crash.

Chase said earlier Wednesday the traffic approaching the area was “horrendous” and drivers were urged to avoid the Bay Bridge and take either the Golden Gate Bridge or the San Mateo Bridge. Problems arose during the delay as cars waiting in traffic stalled, overheated or ran out of gas.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash, which Chase called “a minor miracle.”

“It was very fortunate,” Chase said. “He went across all four lanes and didn't hit anyone.”

The driver reported pain in his lower leg but is “fine,” Chase said.

Chase said the driver has been working for Safeway for some time and has navigated the Bay Bridge many times, but this was the first time with the newly added section.

He reportedly told investigators he was driving at 55 mph at the time, saw a 40-mph sign at the beginning of the S-curve zone and slowed down too late.

Chase said the top of the truck's trailer ripped open during the crash, spilling its contents onto the road.

Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said that in the wake of recent crashes at the S-curve, the agency will begin installing further safety precautions later this week, including additional 40-mph-zone signage, radar signs displaying vehicle speed, and an epoxy grit surface over steel plates at both ends of the S-curve for better traction.

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