I-580 overpass opens a day earlier than expected

It’s official: The eastbound Interstate 580 overpass is open in plenty of time for Memorial Day weekend.

Around 7:30 p.m. Thursday — just 25 days after a fire from a gasoline-tanker crash caused the overpass to collapse in a pile of rubble on Interstate 880 below — Caltrans and California Highway Patrol officers shut down the eastbound ramp of the Bay Bridge so workers could correct the signage hanging above eastbound I-80 to redirect drivers onto the I-580 overpass. The peak-timeclosure caused a significant backup for drivers heading east out of The City.

About an hour later, after an additional Bay Bridge closure, CHP officers escorted the first wave of vehicles over the new stretch of the interstate. Caltrans crews worked down to the last minute, cleaning and striping the new pavement before it was officially opened.

Caltrans originally planned to open the bridge this morning at 5 a.m., but officials said it was ready to go earlier.

“It only needs to be at 3,500 [pounds per square inch]. Right now it’s at 4,500,” Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said. Tests on the new deck concrete needed to show the structure was able to hold at least 3,500 pounds of pressure per square inch to be considered safe.

Rancho Cordova-based C.C. Myers Inc. surprised commuters and transportation officials by opening I-580 more than a month before the June 27 deadline set by the state.

The company had financial incentive to quickly complete the job: For every day shaved off the deadline, Caltrans awarded C.C. Myers Inc. $200,000. The emergency-construction company, which already had a reputation for speed, received $867,075 for the project and a $5 million bonus.

Caltrans senior bridge engineer Peter Strykers credited more than 300 people mobilized for the project and a speedy design-review process for the breakneck repair work.

The early opening of I-580, which is part of the heavily traveled MacArthur Maze used by 75,000 drivers each day, gives relief to commuters who have faced congested detours on Oakland streets.

The overpass was destroyed the morning of April 29 when a gasoline tanker traveling on southbound I-880 crashed into a guardrail and spilled 8,600 gallons of gasoline. The resulting fire caused the I-580 overpass above to collapse onto I-880. The damaged portion of I-880 reopened to vehicle traffic nine days after the explosion.

arocha@examiner.com

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