Twenty-four years after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, we finally got a new bridge to replace the damaged eastern span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. It’s pretty, despite SF Chronicle architecture critic John King’s dismissal.
Here’s the new span next to the old span.
You can see the tower as we approach. The old span will be slowly dismantled over the next couple years, the priorities being re-use and not polluting the poor bay, which is still recovering from everything that happened to it in the first century of California’s statehood.
I got a blurry shot of the cables leading up to the tower as we passed underneath.
While it was under construction, I saw the new tower many times as we drove past on the old span, of course, but somehow hadn’t put it together that the cables would stretch down around us, connecting to the outer edges. It feels like you’re looking up inside a modern cathedral.
Commuting from the Oakland side, you cross the new eastern span and approach Treasure island, which purportedly has the world’s widest bore tunnel drilled through it, to connect the eastern and western spans. From Wednesday night, August 28th through Monday evening, September second, they dis-connected the old bridge and connected the new span to the tunnel. Pretty amazing the construction company could complete the connection so quickly. Here is the approach to Treasure island.
The old span was stacked, just as the tunnel is, but the new span spreads the lanes out next to each other. As you get a little closer to the island, to the left you can see down into the bore where the eastbound traffic leaves the tunnel, before two sides merge, westbound above, eastbound below.
John King is certainly far better versed in architecture than I am, but I still find him a bit too nitpicky. So he doesn’t like the white light poles sticking up, describes them as “staccato” and doesn’t find them working within the bridge’s unified theme. Whatever.
Recently they discovered a structural flaw with some of the bolts holding the damn thing together. This almost delayed opening the new bridge, as safety is, of course, paramount. Then someone asked the obvious question: even with the brittle bolts holding the new bridge together, which is safer, the old span that broke during the earthquake, or the new? Well, the new, of course, so they proceeded to open the new span on time, even as they fix the bolt issue with metallic “saddles.” A bay area-wide Duh moment.
As I do the casual carpool commute into the city, for years I’ve kept my nose stuck in a book. Lately, just as often I lift my head and enjoy the improved view of the north bay, and of the new bridge itself.