Bay Bridge work goes smoothlyBy Laurie Phillips & Nargis Nooristani
As of 7:30 p.m., crews continued work on the removal of 1,000 feet of freeway. The three-day Caltrans demolition project, and the closing of eastbound bridge lanes, led high numbers of people to use public transportation to cross the Bay.
Closing eastbound lanes this Labor Day weekend was required for crews to work on the road from Beal Street east to the Bank of America clock tower building in San Francisco. Those lanes have been closed since 11:59 p.m. Friday and are due to reopen at 5 a.m. Tuesday.
"Everything is according to schedule or a little ahead of schedule even," Caltrans spokeswoman Margena Wade said. "We stayed on time and stayed on task. We didn't receive any complaints."
Caltrans issued free car wash vouchers to residents living near the work area whose cars were dusted with dirt particles.
About 280,000 travelers per day use both directions of the Bay Bridge.
Drivers are being detoured off Interstate 80 at Seventh Street in San Francisco. The First, Fifth, Eighth, Essex and Sterling street on-ramps to eastbound I-80 also are closed until 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Road traffic appeared to be sailing along Monday and, in some places, was lighter than expected. A toll sergeant at the Golden Gate Bridge reported backups of no more than half a dozen cars at one time -- quite a change from Sunday, when the bridge was clogged with vehicles in both directions most of the day.
Travelers were advised to use BART, Muni, AC Transit, the Alameda-Oakland ferry and the Vallejo Baylink ferry to travel between San Francisco and the East Bay -- and many did. Those public transit systems said ridership of trains, boats and buses was up, although not all had compiled data by tonight.
One of BART's station agents described late Friday and late Saturday as "like another commute time," spokesman Linton Johnson said. The agency ran overnight trains Friday, Saturday and Sunday; its last train today will be at 1 a.m. On Tuesday, trains will resume typical weekday service at 4 a.m.
Monday night, many BART riders at the Walnut Creek station said rail system traffic was light all day.
"It's not that bad today, actually," said Jenny Pico of Pittsburg. "It was actually really empty."
Dax Pereyra, who had traveled from his home in the Brentwood area, added: "It hasn't been any busier than it usually is."
The number of people riding the Alameda/Oakland ferries was up about 68 percent Saturday and 58 percent Sunday over the same days last weekend, ferry spokesman Ernest Sanchez said. Today, between 1,200 and 1,500 people boarded the ferries through the evening, slightly below a typical Monday with commuter water traffic.
The service added two ferries and 10 employees to handle increased weekend traffic, Sanchez said, allowing three boats to run 17 round trips a day instead of the usual nine. The ferries have made hourly trips across the Bay from 8 a.m. Saturday through 10 p.m. today. On Tuesday, the service resumes its usual weekday schedule.
"It's been pretty smooth operations for us," said Clarence Johnson, a spokesman for AC Transit, the agency that serves western Alameda and Contra Costa counties. "Our buses have not been overwhelmed."
Although Caltrans closed the bridge to routine traffic, AC Transit shuttled bus passengers between San Francisco and the East Bay around the clock over all three days of the holiday weekend.
Copyright ©2006 Contra Costa Times. Published 09/04/2006.