Dateline: Oakland, where Mister SF celebrates the opening of the new Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge during its inaugural commute! The bridge replaces the 1930s cantilever section which was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and later deemed seismically unsafe.
The Bay Area’s own “Big Dig,” the bridge was completed at a cost of $6.4 billion – 400% higher than Caltrans’ original, 1997 estimate. But do we always get what we pay for, as the old adage would have it? In March 2013, 32 bolts essential to the span’s seismic infrastructure broke when they were tightened. Not to be daunted from making opening day – nor from collecting on-time bonuses – builders and officials decided to shim the sucker until the defective areas of the span can be braced with steel saddle components. Because, after all, if something expensive doesn’t work properly it’s best to ram it and rig it, right? As Mister SF so often says, we’ll find out together.
A movement is underway in the California Legistlature to name the western, SF-Yerba Buena Island span for former Mayor Willie Brown, though the idea leaves San Franciscans cold according to my own informal survey. Some say a fitting honoree is the 19th Century eccentric Emperor Norton, whose proclamation ordering the construction of a bridge between the City and Oakland was printed in City newspapers of the day. We chose the name “Glass Bolt Bridge” for the new eastern span because it’s descriptive, and because its initials create a reverse bookend with those of “Golden Gate Bridge.”