Bay Bridge on track to open after long weekend

  • The old and the new come together at the approach to the tunnel at Yerba Buena Island on the third day of the Bay Bridge closure in Oakland, Calif., Friday, Aug. 30, 2013. When traffic flows across the new stretch of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge for the first time this week, it will do so nearly a quarter-century after a deadly earthquake during the 1989 World Series collapsed two 50-foot sections of the old structure. The 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake hit just as millions tuned in to watch Game 3 of the “Bay Bridge World Series” between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, killing 63 people and causing up to $10 billion in damage. The Bay Bridge failure, one of the temblor’s most memorable images, prompted one of the costliest public works projects in state history. The $6.4 billion project finally draws to a close after decades of political bickering, engineering challenges and billions in cost overruns. (AP Photo/Bay Area News Group, Laura A. Oda)

SAN FRANCISCO — The new eastern half of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was on track to open before sunrise Tuesday following a five-day closure of the full span that is the Bay Area's busiest bridge, officials said Sunday.

Hundreds of workers have been working around the clock since the entire bridge was shut down on Wednesday night so the finishing touches could be put on the $6.4 billion project, Caltrans spokesman Andrew Gordon said.

"If we have the ability to open sooner, we surely will, but we don't want people planning their return from the holiday weekend or Tuesday commute based on speculation," Gordon said.

The new part of the bridge runs from just beyond the toll plaza in Oakland to Yerba Buena Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Although span should be ready to welcome traffic by 5 a.m. Tuesday, its first official road test will come on Monday afternoon during an invitation-only inauguration ceremony, John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Bay Area Toll Authority, said.

About 20 cars, ranging from vintage models to modern electric vehicles, are expected to take a spin across the span following a gathering for government officials, labor leaders, survivors of the 1989 earthquake that collapsed two 50-foot sections of the old structure and people who were alive when the Bay Bridge first opened in 1936.

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