CHP blitz slowing on Bay Bridge S-curve

Fewer squad cars will assemble on the Bay Bridge to prevent accidents involving S-curve speeders.

Nearly $4 million, largely taken from bridge tolls, has already been spent enforcing the curve’s 40 mph speed limit during a safety blitz that will start to wind down.

Caltrans, the state agency that manages the bridge, isn’t recovering enforcement costs from tickets issued to speeding S-curve motorists. That money largely goes to counties.

To save money, fewer officers will be deployed to target S-curve speeders, according to Tony Anziano, a Caltrans official who oversees toll bridges.

The reduction could cut costs from $660,000 to $270,000 a month, but details have not been finalized.

“The intention is for people to understand that there is going to be enhanced enforcement out there,” Anziano said. “Exactly when it’s going to be and where it’s going to be will be determined on an ongoing basis.”

The enforcement blitz began Nov. 11, two days after truck driver Tahir Sheikh Fakhar plunged to his death from the snaking roadway, which was installed in September to reroute traffic while a replacement span is built.

Officials say Fakhar was traveling at 50 mph, the bridge’s normal speed limit, in the special 40 mph zone.

California has not responded to a claim filed by Fakhar’s family that alleges the roadway’s condition was dangerous and defective, attorney Lewis Van Blois said Thursday.

The tragedy followed two months of traffic-snarling nonfatal crashes and flipped vehicles.

The California Highway Patrol has deployed 11 officers daily since November to police speeds, according to John Goodwin, Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman.

Increased speed-limit enforcement was among many steps taken to slow traffic.

Rumble strips, additional signage, reflective striping and nighttime lane closures have helped slow traffic. Fencing was installed to prevent vehicles from flipping over the guardrail.

“We haven’t had any major roadway-closing accidents or fatalities since Nov. 11,” Goodwin said. “The vast majority of drivers have been driving safely through the corridor.”

The rate of accidents at the S-curve fell from nearly six per week to roughly 1.6 per week after militant speed enforcement began, figures show.

New roadway sensors will track traffic speed and patrols could be stepped up again if speeding problems grow, according to Goodwin.

The curve will be used until construction is finished on a replacement eastern span between Yerba Buena Island and Oakland. That’s expected in 2013 or later.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

Monitoring the Bay Bridge

11 Officers deployed daily to police S-curve

$660,000 Monthly cost of increased speed enforcement

$4 million Approximate speed enforcement costs to date

0.85 Daily accidents at S-curve prior to increased enforcement

0.23 Daily accidents at S-curve after increased enforcement

Source: Metropolitan Transportation Commission

 

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