Labor Day shutdown: Bay Bridge to nowhere

When the Bay Bridge shuts down Labor Day weekend, it will mark the first time the major artery between The East Bay and The City has been sealed since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

And it will not be the last time, California Department of Transportation officials said Tuesday.

The bridge will close at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, and reopen at 5 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4. Caltrans crews will demolish and replace a section of roadway the length of a football-field on the upper deck east of the Yerba Buena Island tunnel. The lower deck is being closed for safety reasons.

But even as Caltrans officials prepare for the seismic work, they are planning the next complete bridge shutdown in a year and a half — also part of the monumental earthquake safety project started in May of last year, which is expected to be completed in 2013, Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said Tuesday.

Like the Labor Day closure, and last year’s seismic shutdown of the bridge’s lower deck, the 2008 closure will likely happen on a holiday weekend. That’s because traffic on a typical Labor Day weekend is 20 percent lighter than the average weekday, Saturday or Sunday, when 250,000-300,000 vehicles cross the bridge, Ney said.

Caltrans’ message to commuters is simple: Plan ahead and use public transit. Travel-planning hotline 511 and Web site 511.org are poised to help, Ney said.

Bay Area Rapid Transit is again adding more trains, as well as overnight service, to 14 of its 43 stations during the shutdown, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said.

Mary Currie, public affairs director for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, said the Sausalito Arts Festival — one of Marin County’s most popular events — is also scheduled for Labor Day weekend. Despite added Golden Gate Transit and Golden Gate Ferry service, she expects significant traffic congestion on the Golden Gate Bridge and on

U.S. Highway 101 between the Richmond Bridge and San Francisco.

Switching gears

The Bay Bridge will be closed from 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, to 5 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4. Construction crews will perform seismic-safety work on a section of the bridge east of the Yerba Buena Island tunnel.

» Use alternate bridges: Golden Gate, Richmond-San Rafael, San Mateo-Hayward and Dumbarton.

» Transbay bus service will not be available — use 511.org for transit alternatives.

» BART will run overnight service to the following stations: Bay Fair, Downtown Berkeley, Coliseum/Oakland Airport, Concord, Daly City, Dublin/Pleasanton, El Cerrito Del Norte, Embarcadero, MacArthur, Powell, SFO, Walnut Creek, 12th Street Oakland and 24th Street. Visit bart.gov for schedule information.

» Take the ferry: Alameda-Oakland, Vallejo Baylink and Golden Gate ferries will run expanded service. Visit eastbayferry.com, baylinkferry.com and goldengateferry.org for details.

» People who live or work on Yerba Buena Island or Treasure Island will be granted access through a special permit. Visit baybridgeinfo.org for details.

tbarak@examiner.com


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