Reporting Christin Ayers
SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Twenty-four years after the Loma Prieta earthquake, billions of dollars later and – most recently – a bit of drama over bad bolts, multiple well-placed transportation sources told KPIX 5 on Wednesday evening that the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge will indeed open on Labor Day weekend.
The three-member Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee is scheduled to vote on the plan in open session Thursday morning.
The committee consists of Metropolitan Transportation Commission director Steve Heminger, Caltrans director Malcom Dougherty, and California Transportation Commission executive commissioner Andre Boutros.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, the sources said, has thrown his support behind a Labor Day opening. Barring unforeseen events overnight, the TBPOC’s affirmative vote is considered a foregone conclusion.
“You can criticize the amount of the investment and how long it took, but the new bridge is safer,” State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier told KPIX 5 Wednesday. “So, the sooner we get people off of the old one, onto the new one, and get it open successfully, the better.”
Construction crews are expected to shut down the bridge for five full days before the new bridge opens to traffic. Some demolition work, paving and painting need to be done. Officials said the crews are up to it.
“There’s a sense of pride in it, but there’s a sense of satisfaction,” said lead design engineer Marwan Nader. “It’s a whole team that worked on it and it’s nice to see us get to the finish line.”
The Labor Day opening reportedly will include only a modest ceremony to mark completion of the new bridge – a far cry from the two-days of festivities that were originally planned to include a marathon run, bike race, concerts, light show, fireworks and a public bridge walk. A higher-profile public event may be scheduled once repairs to the bridge’s defective bolts have been completed.
The decision to re-schedule the opening for Labor Day followed a ruling by the Federal Highway Transportation Administration, which KPIX 5 first disclosed Monday, that an interim fix involving shims would allow the new span to open safely while the defective bolts are being repaired.
(Copyright 2013 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)