SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The Bay Bridge celebrated its 75th birthday this year, but another more important milestone is seemingly around the corner.

California Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Bart Ney, who also serves as spokesperson for the Bay Bridge construction project, said they are moving ahead of schedule in opening the new span, connecting Oakland to San Francisco.

KCBS Interviews Bart Ney with Caltrans on the Bay Bridge:

“Over the past year, things have been picking up progress on construction of the bridge,” Ney said. “Last year we came up with a plan and implemented it this year for how we could shift traffic in Oakland, which would allow us to have another construction crew in between the new bridge that we’re building and the bridge that’s serving motorists right now. This will allow us to open the bridge about six months early in 2013.”

Ney said that even though they are moving ahead of schedule there is still plenty of work to be done, including connecting the new portion of the span to the Yerba Buena Island Tunnel, shifting traffic on the Oakland side of the bridge and completing the connection into the toll plaza.

But as commuters continue to use the Bay Bridge, Ney said there are some growing concerns over the S-curve.

“Right now, we aren’t experiencing any increase in accidents, but the CHP has recently told us that speeds are starting to increase on the S-curve,” said Ney. “What we found out when we studied the issue was that motor speed was the problem with being able to handle it. As long as people travel the posted speed limit, there were no issues with being able to handle it safely. But the speeds are getting in excess of 65-70 miles per hour going through the S-curve. That’s people getting comfortable with it but it’s still no less dangerous to not follow the signage. So we are going to be increasing patrolling in that area in an attempt to reduce speeds.”

Ney said that while the main purpose of the project was to do an earthquake retrofit on the span, there will be plenty of features that will help ease traffic and commuting across the Bay Bridge each day.

The hope is to have the bridge open late in 2013.

You can hear KCBS In Depth, a weekly half-hour news interview, Saturdays at 5:30a.m. and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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