Revitalized Bay Bridge reopens ahead of schedule

Bay Area residents returning from the Labor Day weekend had a pleasant surprise Monday night when lanes in both directions on the Bay Bridge opened 11 hours earlier than expected.

The bridge reopened at 6 p.m. Monday, just 70 hours after Caltrans closed it off for major renovations as part of a seismic retrofitting project.

“I’m just glad [the bridge] opened on time,” San Francisco resident Edward Solomon said. “I can’t imagine what everyone would have done without that [bridge] during a weekday.”

During the 70 hours of work, crews demolished a piece of the upper deck east of Yerba Buena Island, and early Monday morning, they installed the new 6,500-ton, 350-foot portion of Interstate 80.

More than 2,700 tons of concrete and steel made up the replacement piece that was moved into place, according to Rancho Cordova-based contractor C.C. Myers. Caltrans scheduled five hours for the fitting, but it took less than three hours. After the piece was in place, crews Monday assessed the lower deck of the bridge, which sustained minor damage from falling chunks of steel and concrete during the weekend demolition.

“Even though some of the demolition was very stubborn, they managed to make up time because it was such a perfect fit,” Caltrans spokeswoman Margena Wade said.

Caltrans closed the bridge at 8:07 p.m. Friday and had scheduled its reopening for 5 a.m. today. It was the first total closure for the Bay Bridge since the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 damaged the upper deck. The next bridge closure is expected in 18 months.

Caltrans spent $1 million on a campaign to warn motorists about the Labor Day closure, and despite fears that weekend events would be affected, Summer of Love in The City had an estimated 50,000 in attendance at Golden Gate Park.

Transbay drivers have recently dealt with damaged roads and subsequent detours when a tanker explosion melted a portion of the MacArthur Maze in April 2007. The resulting fire collapsed a portion of Interstate 580 onto an Interstate 880 ramp. C.C. Myers, the contractor in charge of rebuilding the damaged portion of I-580, beat the state’s repair deadline by more than a month.

Examiner Staff Writer Mike Rosenberg and wire reports contributed to this story

dsmith@examiner.com

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