Dumbarton Bridge to shut on holiday

Motorists looking to cross the Bay this weekend will have to find an option other than the Dumbarton Bridge, as the span will be shuttered for three days for much-needed seismic rehabilitation work.

Starting at 10 p.m. Friday, the bridge, which is part of state Highway 84, will be closed to all automobile traffic while crews replace a joint on the eastern segment, a move that will improve the seismic integrity of the structure.

Work will last until 5 a.m. Tuesday, when the span is reopened to vehicle traffic.

The Bay Area Toll Authority, the regional agency in charge of the bridge, is advising drivers to instead use the San Mateo Bridge or state Highway 237 near San Jose.

The southernmost of the region’s eight spans, the Dumbarton Bridge has been in service for three decades without any significant seismic upgrades. This weekend, work crews will install a new seismic joint, spanning all six lanes of traffic. The joint, reflecting new trends in seismic technology, will dissipate effects from nearby earthquakes.

Funded by bridge toll funds, the retrofit project will cost a total of $152.5 million and is scheduled to be completed by 2013, according to authority spokesman John Goodwin. This will be the last scheduled multiday closure for the Dumbarton Bridge, Goodwin said.

While the Dumbarton Bridge, which carries about 61,000 motorists every day, will be closed this weekend, its much busier relative to the north will remain open. The Bay Bridge was shuttered during the 2006, 2007 and 2009 Labor Day weekends, and the span was closed in February for Presidents Day weekend. Work is progressing well on the $6.3 billion project, and it is only scheduled for one more multiday closure — Labor Day 2013 — with the completely rebuilt span slated to finally open after that project, according to bridge spokesman Bart Ney.

However, three state senators from the Legislature have called for an independent investigation into the seismic testing of the span following stories by the Sacramento Bee that reported test falsifications by an engineer who worked on the bridge. Ney said he didn’t know if the audit could push back the planned opening date of the rebuilt bridge.

“There currently is no way to determine whether an additional outside review beyond the three already performed will affect the opening date of the Bay Bridge until we have a proposal from the state senators,” Ney said. “We already have the leading engineers in the industry, a third-party engineering review team from BATA and the Federal Highway Administration agreeing that the Bay Bridge has been reviewed and is safe.”


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