It has been almost 24 years since a portion of the Bay Bridge was brought down by the Loma Prieta earthquake in October 1989 and 11 years since the construction of a new Eastern span began. The new span connects Oakland to Yerba Buena Island and includes the world’s largest self-anchored suspension bridge.
To complete the final steps of connecting the new span to the Yerba Buena Island, the Bay Bridge was closed Wednesday, August 28 at 8:00 p.m. and the completed bridge was scheduled to open Tuesday, September 3 at 5:00 a.m. But the work was completed ahead of schedule, allowing the first cars to drive across the bridge shortly after 10:00 p.m. September 2. I took my first drive across the new bridge Tuesday morning, almost exactly 12 hours after its opening. It was very exciting!
There are 5 lanes plus a shoulder for emergencies for each direction of the new span. All lanes are on the same level rather than being stacked. Approaching the curve of the span:
The light towers on the bridge use more than 48,000 LED bulbs. The new lighting will use half the energy required on the old span and are estimated to last last 5-7 times longer. Taking down the old span is estimated to take 3 years and that work is already under way. A better view of the now untraveled Eastern span:
While driving across the bridge one cannot see the custom platforms built under the skyway to provide roosting for seabirds.
The new bridge is truly a marvel and a gem. It has not been without its critics, or its problems, but it is now a reality that will add its splendor to a travel destination — the beautiful Bay Area.