Urban living in the 21st century is by no means stress-free, and there is no shortage of problems facing this region. But fortunately, there are also times when the most appropriate interpretation of the latest news is simply to shout “hurray” and recommend that the public take a moment to pat itself on the back.
The just-finished 2007 Labor Day holiday weekend appears to qualify as one of those flawless moments for the Bay Area. This outcome seems especially satisfying because potential problems might easily have turned the three-day weekend into a memorable major mess.
The big story — as well as the big question mark — of course was the massive retrofit of a 350-foot section of the Bay Bridge, which called for total closure of the San Francisco-Oakland span for the entire three days and four nights while normal workday commuting was on recess.
If the job ran late, this morning’s standard 280,000-vehicle bridge commute would have become a nightmare of highway gridlock and crushingly overcrowded BART trains.
But instead, homeward bound holiday motorists could drive across the Bay Bridge as early as 6 p.m. Monday evening. C.C. Myers and his can-do construction crews got the bridge reopened 11 hours before the Tuesday sunrise deadline, beating the clock just as spectacularly as they did in May when they repaired the explosion-collapsed MacArthur Maze in 18 days.
It can seem almost startling these days when any vendor consistently under-promises and over-delivers on major projects. C.C. Myers for mayor?
The corollary of the three-day bridge closure was that motorists would obviously need to find alternate routes across the Bay for the plethora of scheduled major attractions — unless they rode public transit or stayed home. The results showed that the public coped admirably. Highway traffic was 16 percent lighter than usual and BART is confident that its final ridership counts will confirm that new weekend records have been set.</p>
Some 50,000 people made their way to Golden Gate Park for the nostalgia-drenched free concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of San Francisco’s Summer of Love. And San Francisco/Peninsula sports fans who wanted to be at the Cal-Tennessee football game or the Oakland A’s-Detroit series found ways to cross the East Bay.
There was also no shortage of art-lovers at the big outdoor festivals in Sausalito and downtown Oakland.
With the Bay Area’s impressive Labor Day accomplishments, we can all give thanks again that we live in a one-of-a-kind community that can simultaneously get things done and have fun in rare style. Congratulations. And for more good news, the seismic retrofit is not expected to shut down the Bay Bridge again for at least 18 months.