Officials celebrate reopening of Maze

The morning-after celebration of the MacArthur Maze reopening was a bit like an Oscar acceptance speech, with everyone receiving a “thank you” from federal, state and local officials.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger toured the site, taking a look at the underbelly of the Interstate 580 connector that reopened Thursday night, just 25 days after a tanker truck fire brought it down onto the Interstate 880 connector.

“This is a day we all can be proud how well the system functions when there’s a will behind it,” said Schwarzenegger of the repairs. “There’s a lot of people that have worked together to make this happen,”

Joining the governor were state Department of Transportation Director Will Kempton, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, California Highway Patrol Cmdr. Michael Brown and Dale Bonner, secretary of the state for the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

In the early morning of April 29, a gasoline tanker truck crashed on the overpass connecting Interstate 80 westbound to Interstate 880 southbound. The resulting fire collapsed a 165-foot portion of the Interstate 80 eastbound to Interstate 580 eastbound connector onto the ramp connecting westbound Interstate 80 to southbound Interstate 880.

The two ramps carry roughly 160,000 drivers daily as part of the MacArthur Maze, an integral confluence of roadways that connect residents and commerce to all corners of the Bay Area.

Because of the damage to the roads and their importance to local economies and daily life, all relevant agencies sprung into action, beginning with the first responders such as the CHP and the Emeryville Fire Department that kept anyone from being injured. The governor authorized up to $20 million for the project, with help coming from the federal government.

After it was determined to be structurally sound, the Interstate 880 connector, which the above ramp collapsed onto, reopened May 7, just nine days after the gasoline-fueled blaze that reached temperatures of 2,750 degrees.

Rancho Cordova-based C.C. Myers Inc. was awarded an incentive-laden contract of $867,075 that afternoon to rebuild the damaged portion of Interstate 580, and it was soon thereafter that Myers said that the rebuilding of the Interstate 580 connector could be done in less than 25 days, which would bring the company a $5 million bonus.

“My people, they look at this as not work — it’s fun to come out and build something like this,” Myers said.

Myers laborer Matthew Clifford, 24, said he came onto the job after four days, assisting carpenters and pouring concrete. He said the workers were motivated and focused on completing the job safely, soundly and quickly.

“We were really out to get it done,” Clifford said.”We definitely treated it differently.”

dsmith@examiner.com

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