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Six years late and 7 hours early, Bay Bridge opens—after speeches

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The first cars rolled across the new eastern span at about 10:15 last night, with some motorists gathering a couple of hours early near the Oakland toll gates as word spread that Caltrans would beat its 5 a.m. Tuesday target for reconfiguring the approach to Yerba Buena Island. For the record, it was 11 years being built, nearly six years late, and at $6.4 billion, more than five times the originally advertised cost. And although the traffic rolled thick during this morning’s inaugural rush-hour, it isn’t finished, with the bicycle/pedestrian path still to be completed, and defective bolts to be replaced.

None of that kept about 1,000 dignitaries and others from gathering at a Caltrans warehouse near the east landing—where politicians including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan (shown above) made speeches for about two hours before the big event.

There’s this from the Chronicle:

After the speeches, the crowd made its way to the toll plaza, strolling across the eastbound lanes. Lt. Gov. - and former San Francisco mayor – Gavin Newsom wielded a cutting torch and burned through a length of chain held up by other dignitaries, a Bay Bridge tradition started in 1936 when then-Gov. Frank Merriam did the deed. Several minutes later, a procession of motor vehicles - from CHP motorcycles to Model A's to Teslas to an AC Transit bus - squeezed through the toll booths and slowly made its way across the new east span.

Image: KPIX

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