S.F. Bay Bridge work ahead of schedule

Though officials are making no promises, there remains a possibility that the Bay Bridge could open earlier than expected Tuesday morning.

“If we finish early, we’ll open early,” California Department of Transportation spokesman Bart Ney said. “This is a public bridge and we want to give it back to the public.”

On Sunday afternoon, Caltrans crews were preparingto start rolling in 350 feet of new roadway at 8 p.m. — two hours ahead of schedule.

The bridge is scheduled to open to drivers at 5 a.m. Tuesday. Crews have been working continuously on the seismic upgrade project since 8 p.m. Friday evening. Ney said there have been no injuries to workers and no major difficulties.

Gridlock in other parts of the Bay Area has thus far failed to materialize, California Highway Patrol Officer T. Hoover reported. The CHP issued a traffic advisory in Oakland at 10:05 a.m. Sunday due to some backup near the MacArthur Maze, but it was mainly precautionary, she said.

Traffic was slightly heavier but for the most part flowed smoothly on the Golden Gate Bridge during the weekend, said Mary Currie, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. Traffic was also slightly heavier on the Dumbarton Bridge, according to the CHP.

People seemed to be taking advantage of the increased public transit service, though final ridership numbers weren’t available.

Aside from some crowding around the Cal Bears football game, things went “exceptionally smoothly” on BART, which expected a 10 to 20 percent jump in ridership over the weekend, agency spokesman Linton Johnson said.

There was also an increase in ferry riders, Currie said.

“We did very well on the San Francisco to Sausalito service. Larkspur was a little lighter,” she said.

AC Transit officials also reported an increase in riders, mainly due to the Cal game.

Organizers of a concert commemorating the 40th Anniversary of San Francisco’s Summer of Love had worried that the bridge closure would hurt attendance. But on Sunday, event spokesman Lee Housekeeper said 40,000 people managed to make it to Golden Gate Park.

“That’s 10-15,000 people more than we expected,” he said.

The artists also had no trouble getting to The City. Country Joe McDonald of ’60s psychedelic band Country Joe and the Fish took BART from the North Berkeley Station — even singing to his fellow transit riders, Housekeeper said.

tbarak@examiner.com

See more photos: Bay Bridge gallery

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