By Tim Hunt
Time to get the Bay Bridge openUploaded: Aug 29, 2013
Come next Tuesday, or perhaps sooner, Bay Bridge users will start utilizing the area's staggering $6.4 billion investment in earthquake safety and transportation reliability.
Here's hoping that the commute this morning and tomorrow will be substantially lightened by employees and employers figuring out alternatives to their car crossing a bridge.
The shutdown is nothing new to East Bay commuters who have survived Labor Day weekend shutdowns of the bridge previously to allow major construction work. The reward this time should be a much safer new span that is designed to withstand the major earthquake that scientists predict could hit the area anytime in the next 30 years.
Given the stunning issue with long bolts cracking that could not be replaced, it's great to see the bridge actually open. It should have been a no-brainer, even with the bolt issues. The new bridge was designed with the knowledge engineers have gained from the major earthquakes have rocked the state in the last 30 years-toppling freeway overpasses and pancaking the Cypress Structure on I-880. Understanding the new structure was designed to survive those big shakers made it necessary to open it as soon as possible.
Missing the typically ideal weather of Labor Day for problematic weather later in the yearperhaps during the holidayswas way too big a gamble compared to opening it now.
The good news of the bridge completion, nearly 24 years after a section of the Bay Bridge collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, also stands as a sad testament to how long it takes to accomplish what should have been a high-priority project.
It contrasts sharply with the governor's effort to jam the high-speed rail down the throats of California voters. Unlike the bridge, which does have a financing plan and a revenue stream in place to pay for the construction, the high-speed rail has just about 10 percent of the estimated $69 billion cost identified.
Fortunately, earlier this month, a judge found that the authority violated the law when it started moving ahead with the small segment in the San Joaquin Valley that potentially could be a railroad from barely somewhere to nowhere. The ruling by Sacramento Judge Michael Kenny found the authority violated the statute by having funding and environmental clearances in place for only the first 130-mile first segment in the San Joaquin Valley instead of the entire 300 miles to the San Fernando Valley.
Judge Quentin Kopp, the first chair of the rail authority, submitted a statement supporting the plaintiff's contention that the authority had violated the statute.
Stay tuned on this onethe attorney general has argued in briefs on legal challenges to the high-speed rail that federal environmental law should govern the high-speed rail, not the more stringent state standards. That's how desperately Governor Brown wants to move the rail forward.