UPDATE: The upper westbound deck of the Bay Bridge reopened more than a day earlier than scheduled Sunday.
The successful completion of the bridge was due to “a combination of efficient teamwork, led by prime contractor, MCM Construction, and clear weather enabled crews to complete the work 34 hours ahead of schedule,” according to a statement issued on The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Seismic Safety Projects website.
Motorists will notice a gentler curve as they approach the Bay Bridge, and speed limits on the bridge will remain the same.
BART released unofficial statistics this morning showing near-record numbers during the Bay Bridge closure. About 178,000 people rode BART Sunday, Feb. 19 compared to 121,000 the previous Sunday and 112,700 on Sunday, Feb. 5.
BART’s traffic was the highest of the holiday weekend on Saturday with 236,600 riders. That is the fifth highest Saturday for BART in its history.
BART’s busiest Saturday in history was Sept. 1, 2007 when 278,600 people rode BART due to the Bay Bridge completely being shut down with three major sporting events scheduled for that weekend.
The westbound deck of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is closed for the Presidents’ Day weekend due to construction.
The upper deck heading into San Francisco was closed at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 to 5 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21. The lower deck will remain open.
Construction is intended to bring the bridge up to current transportation standards as it undergoes a major seismic retrofit. The west span of the bridge, the side closest to San Francisco, requires seismic retrofit work and the east span, Oakland side, requires the complete replacement of the existing span.
“The westbound deck of the Bay Bridge will be closed for all eight miles. We are shifting traffic lanes over to the south. We are doing that so we can move traffic and surgically remove a portion of the bridge,” said Bart Ney, Caltrans spokesman.
Ney explained that the portion of the bridge that is being removed will make room for a new incline section that will carry traffic traveling eastbound on the bridge. A detour will also be constructed near the toll plaza.
Motorists are encouraged to take public transportation or use alternative driving routes during the closure.
C.S. Gomora, an American Indian studies and literature major at SF State, said he will still be taking BART to class on Monday, but is worried about overcrowding.
“I am probably going to be leaving an hour earlier then I normally would,” said Gomora.
BART will be providing overnight service at select stations during the closure. BART will run hourly after midnight and will only stop at 14 stations.
The morning of Tuesday, Feb. 21 there will be no overnight BART service from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. even though the bridge will be closed at that time.
Additional ferry service will be provided during the closure, including Alameda-Oakland Ferry, Alameda Harbor Bay Ferry and Vallejo Baylink Ferry.
AC Transit buses will not operate over the bridge, but will maintain regular scheduled service in the East Bay by operating to and from West Oakland BART station. Line 800 All-Nighter Buses will operate to and from the 12th St. BART station.
Due to the increase in traffic and use of the other bridges in the Bay Area, motorists are also encouraged to allow extra time for travel. This includes the Golden Gate Bridge, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge and the Dumbarton Bridge.
Weather could slow construction and delay the reopening of the westbound deck, which will remain closed until it is completed, according to The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Seismic Safety Projects.
The Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee announced that they are targeting Labor Day Weekend 2013 for the opening of the new east span of the bridge.
The new east span will feature side-by-side decks rather then the current double decks. This will allow for a more open feeling and provide expansive views, according to The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Seismic Safety Projects. The west span is limited to the double-deck structure because of the lack of available space in San Francisco.
More information will be announced in the coming months regarding the closure of the east span. For updates, trip planning and real-time traffic conditions check 511.org or call 511.