Bay Bridge

The History Of The Bay Bridge

The San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge (known locally as the Bay Bridge) is a pair of bridges spanning San Francisco Bay of California, in the United States. As part of Interstate 80 and the direct road route between San Francisco and Oakland, it carries approximately 270,000 vehicles per day on its two decks.[3] It has one of the longest spans in the world.
The toll bridge was conceived as early as the gold rush days, but construction did not begin until 1933. Designed by Charles H. Purcell,[4][5] and built by American Bridge Company, it opened for traffic on November 12, 1936, six months before the Golden Gate Bridge. It originally carried automobile traffic on its upper deck, and trucks and trains on the lower, but after the closure of the Key System, the lower deck was converted to road traffic as well.
The bridge was closed on October 27, 2009 due to failure of part of the recently-repaired eastern span. It reopened on November 2, 2009.[6]
In 1986, the bridge was unofficially dedicated to James B. Rolph.

Composition

The bridge consists of two major crossings connecting each shore with Yerba Buena Island, a natural outcropping located mid-bay. The Western crossing lies between Yerba Buena and San Francisco. It is composed of two complete suspension spans connected at a center anchorage.[8] The top of the Rincon Hill neighborhood serves as the western anchorage and touch-down for the San Francisco landing of the bridge connected by three shorter truss spans. The eastern crossing, between Yerba Buena Island and Oakland, is a cantilever bridge that consists of a double-tower span, five medium truss spans, and a 14-section truss causeway. Due to earthquake concerns the eastern crossing is being replaced by an entirely new crossing, to be finished in late 2013.[9] On Yerba Buena Island, the double-decked crossing consists of a 321 foot (98 m) concrete viaduct east of the west span’s cable anchorage, a 540 foot (160 m) tunnel through the island’s rocky central hill, another 790.8 foot (241.0 m) concrete viaduct, and a longer curved high-level steel truss viaduct that spans the final 1,169.7 feet (356.5 m) to the cantilever bridge.[10] The viaduct sections east of the tunnel are at present being modified, bypassed and replaced as part of the seismic safety work that will eventually transition traffic onto and off of the self-anchored suspension (SAS) bridge of the new eastern bay crossing.
The toll plaza on the Oakland side (since 1969 for westbound traffic only) has eighteen toll lanes, of which six are dedicated FasTrak lanes. Mainline metering signals are located approximately 600 feet (200 m) west of the toll plaza. Two full-time bus-only lanes bypass the toll booths and metering lights around the right (north) side of the toll plaza; other high occupancy vehicles are permitted to use these lanes during weekday morning and afternoon commute periods. The two far-left toll lanes are operated as high-occupancy vehicle lanes during weekday morning and afternoon commute periods. During the morning commute hours, traffic congestion on the Oakland approach stretches back onto the three feeder highways, Interstate 580, Interstate 880, and Interstate 80 toward Richmond, California.[11] Since the number of lanes on the San Francisco approach is structurally restricted, backups are frequent in the eastbound direction during evening commute hours. The bridge is currently restricted to motorized freeway traffic. Pedestrians, bicycles, and other non-freeway vehicles and devices are not allowed. A California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) bicycle shuttle operates during peak commute hours for $1.00 each way.[12]
Freeway ramps next to the tunnel provide access to Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island. Because the toll plaza is on the Oakland side, traffic between the island and San Francisco can freely cross back and forth without ever paying a toll. Those who only travel from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island, and not the entire length to San Francisco, must still pay the full toll.
Pre-construction

San Francisco, located at the mouth of the bay, was in a perfect location to prosper during the California Gold Rush. Almost all goods not produced locally arrived by ship. But after the first transcontinental railroad was completed in May 1869, San Francisco found itself to be on the wrong side of the bay, separated from the new rail link. The fear of many San Franciscans was that the city would lose its position as the regional center of trade. The concept of a bridge spanning the San Francisco Bay had been considered since the Gold Rush days. Several newspaper articles during the early 1870s discussed the idea. In early 1872, a “Bay Bridge Committee” was hard at work on plans to construct a railroad bridge. The April 1872 issue of the San Francisco Real Estate Circular contained an item about the committee:
The Bay Bridge Committee lately submitted its report to the Board of Supervisors, in which compromise with the Central Pacific was recommended; also the bridging of the bay at Ravenswood and the granting of railroad facilities at Mission Bay and on the water front. Wm. C. Ralston, ex-Mayor Selby and James Otis were on this committee. A daily newspaper attempts to account for the advice of these gentlemen to the city by hinting that they were afraid of the railroad company, and therefore made their recommendations to suit its interests.[13]
The self-proclaimed Emperor Norton I saw fit to decree several times that a suspension bridge be constructed to connect Oakland with San Francisco. Later in 1872, frustrated that nothing had happened, Norton decreed:
WHEREAS, we issued our decree ordering the citizens of San Francisco and Oakland to appropriate funds for the survey of a suspension bridge from Oakland Point via Goat Island; also for a tunnel; and to ascertain which is the best project; and whereas the said citizens have hitherto neglected to notice our said decree; and whereas we are determined our authority shall be fully respected; now, therefore, we do hereby command the arrest by the army of both the Boards of City Fathers if they persist in neglecting our decrees.
Given under our royal hand and seal at San Francisco, this 17th day of September, 1872.[14]

Unlike most of Emperor Norton’s eccentric ideas, his decree to build a bridge had wide public and political appeal. Yet, the task was too much of an engineering and economic challenge since the bay was too wide and too deep there. In 1921, over forty years after Norton’s death, a tunnel was considered, but it became clear that one would be inadequate for vehicular traffic.[3] Support for a trans-bay crossing finally grew in the 1920s with the increasing popularity and availability of the automobile. In 1929, the California Legislature established the California Toll Bridge Authority with the responsibility of connecting San Francisco and Alameda County with a bridge.[3]
To make the bridge design feasible, its route was chosen to pass through Yerba Buena Island (formerly known as Goat Island in 1870s), significantly reducing the amount of material and construction labor needed to build a trans-bay crossing. Yerba Buena Island was a U.S. Navy base at the time (and until 1997).[16] So the approval of the U.S. Congress, which regulates the armed services and supervises all naval and military bases, was necessary for this island to be used. After a great deal of lobbying, California received Congressional approval to use the island on February 20, 1931.[citation needed]

Construction

The Bay Bridge under construction at Yerba Buena Island in 1935
The chief engineer was Ralph Modjeski. Construction began on July 9, 1933.[17] The western span of the bridge between San Francisco and Yerba Buena Island presented an enormous engineering situation. The bay was up to 100 feet (30 m) deep in places and the soil required new foundation-laying techniques.[3] A single main suspension span some 4100 feet (1.245km) in length was considered but rejected, as it would have required too much fill and reduced wharfage space at San Francisco, had less vertical clearance for shipping, and cost more than the design ultimately adopted.[18] The solution was to construct a massive concrete anchorage halfway between San Francisco and the island, and to build a main suspension span on each side of this central anchorage.[19]
East of Yerba Buena Island, the bay to Oakland was spanned by a 10,176-foot (3,102 m) combination of double cantilever, five long-span through-trusses, and a truss causeway, forming the longest bridge of its kind at the time.[3] The cantilever section was longest in the nation and third-longest anywhere.[20]
Much of the original eastern span is founded upon treated wood. Because of the very deep mud on the bay bottom it was not practical to reach bedrock, although the lower levels of the mud are quite firm. Long wooden pilings were crafted from entire old-growth Douglas fir trees which were driven through the soft mud to the firmer bottom layers.[21]
Yerba Buena Tunnel

Traveling through the westbound Yerba Buena tunnel
Connecting the two halves of the bridge is Yerba Buena Tunnel, measuring 76 feet (23 m) wide, 58 feet (18 m) high, and 540 feet (160 m) long.[10] It is the largest diameter transportation bore tunnel in the world.[3]
Reminders of the long-gone bridge railway survive along the south side of the lower Yerba Buena Tunnel. These are the regularly spaced “deadman holes” along the wall, into which track workers could duck if a train came along. (The north side, which always carried only motor traffic, lacks these holes.)[citation needed][22]
Opening day
The bridge was opened to traffic on November 12, 1936, at 12:30 p.m. Among those in attendance were the former U.S. president Herbert Hoover, Senator William G. McAdoo, and the Governor of California, Frank Merriam. Governor Merriam officially opened the bridge by cutting gold chains across the traffic lanes with an acetylene cutting torch.[23] The San Francisco Chronicle report of November 13, 1936, read:
“the greatest traffic jam in the history of S.F., a dozen old-fashioned New Year’s eves thrown into one — the biggest and most good-natured crowd of tens of thousands ever to try and walk the streets and guide their autos on them — This was the city last night, the night of the bridge opening with every auto owner in the bay region, seemingly, trying to crowd his machine onto the great bridge.
And those who tried to view the brilliantly lighted structure from the hilltops and also view the fireworks display were numbered also in the thousands.
Every intersection in the city, particularly those near the San Francisco entrance to the bridge, was jammed with a slowly moving auto caravan.
Every available policeman in the department was called to duty to aid in regulating the city’s greatest parade of autos.
One of the greatest traffic congestions of the evening was at Fifth and Mission Streets, with downtown traffic and bridge-bound traffic snarled in an almost hopeless mass. To add to the confusion, traffic signals jammed and did not synchronize.
Police reported that there was no lessening of the traffic over the bridge, all lanes being crowded with Oakland- or San-Francisco-bound machines far into the night.”
The total cost of construction for the bridge was $77 million.[3] Prior to its opening, the bridge was blessed by Cardinal Secretary of State Eugene Cardinal Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII.[24] Because it was in effect two bridges strung together, the western spans were ranked the second and third largest suspension bridges. Only the George Washington Bridge had a longer span between towers.

Roadway plan

Two spanned double-deck suspension bridge with a common central anchorage connect Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco.

A double balanced cantilever bridge, five truss bridges, and two truss causeways currently connect Yerba Buena Island to Oakland (to be replaced by new construction)
The original western approach to (and exit from) the upper deck of the bridge was a long ramp to Fifth, branching to Harrison St for westward traffic off the bridge and Bryant St for eastward traffic entering. There was also an on-ramp to the upper deck on Rincon Hill from Fremont Street (that later became an off-ramp) and an off-ramp to First Street (later extended over First St to Fremont St). The lower deck ended at Essex and Harrison St; just southwest of there, the tracks of the bridge railway left the lower deck and curved northward into the elevated loop through the Transbay Terminal that was paved for buses after rail service ended.[citation needed]
There were three original eastern approaches: a viaduct from the end of Cypress Street (State Route 17) in Oakland; a viaduct from the end of 38th Street (U.S. Route 50) at San Pablo Avenue in Oakland; and the Eastshore Highway which carried U.S. Route 40 along the shoreline of Albany, Berkeley and Emeryville.[citation needed]
Until the 1960s the upper deck (58 feet (18 m) wide between curbs) carried three lanes of traffic in each direction and was restricted to automobiles only.[3] Eastward view after freeways The lower deck carried three lanes of truck and auto traffic on the north side.[3] In the 1950s traffic lights were added to set the direction of travel in the middle lane, but still with no divider. Two railroad tracks on the south half of the lower deck carried the electric commuter trains of the Southern Pacific, the Key System, and the Sacramento Northern railroad, although train service across the bridge to the San Francisco Transbay Terminal did not begin until January 15, 1939.[25] An overhead catenary supplied power to the Southern Pacific and Sacramento Northern trains while the Key trains used a third rail. After 1941 only the Key System used these tracks; railroad service on the bridge ended in April 1958.[3]
The Bay Bridge rebuilding (five westbound lanes on the upper deck and five eastbound lanes on the lower deck) was completed October 12, 1963.[citation needed] Tolls were collected in both directions until September 1969, when toll collection from westbound traffic only began.[citation needed]
The Federal highway on the bridge was originally a concurrency of U.S. Highway 40 and U.S. Highway 50. The bridge was re-designated as Interstate 80 in 1964, and U.S. 40 and U.S. 50 were eventually cut back to Utah and Sacramento, respectively.
The off-ramps for Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island are unusual in that they are on the left-hand side both in the eastbound and westbound directions. Eastbound and westbound on-ramps are on the usual right-hand side, but they do not have dedicated merge lanes; drivers must accelerate from a stop sign to freeway speeds in a short distance.

Modifications

Daytime view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco seen from Yerba Buena Island
Automobile traffic increased dramatically in the ensuing decades while the Key System declined, and in October 1963, the Bay Bridge was reconfigured with five lanes of westbound traffic on the upper deck and five lanes of eastbound traffic on the lower deck. Trucks were allowed on both decks and the railroad was removed.[3] Owing to a lack of clearance for trucks through the upper-deck portion of the Yerba Buena tunnel, it was necessary to lower the elevation of the upper deck where it passes through the tunnel, and to correspondingly excavate to lower the elevation of the lower portion.[26] This work was done while the Bay Bridge was in use by using a movable temporary span over the portion being lowered. On the lower deck of the tunnel and its eastern viaduct extension, it was necessary to remove central supports, with each transverse beam (of reinforced concrete) being doubled to take the load across all lanes.[citation needed] It was also necessary to further reinforce each beam supporting the upper deck throughout the entire span, modifications still visible to the traveler.[citation needed]
On February 11, 1968, a U.S. Navy T-33 Shooting Star training aircraft, flying out of the nearby Naval Air Station Alameda, crashed into the eastern span of the bridge, killing both officers. One of the truss sections of the bridges was replaced due to damage from the impact.[27]
The series of lights adorning the suspension cables was added in 1986 as part of the bridge’s 50th-anniversary celebration.[28]
Earthquake damage and subsequent upgrades

Collapsed section of roadway deck, 1989
During the October 17, 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake, which measured 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale,[29] a 50-foot (15 m) section of the upper deck of the eastern truss portion of the bridge at Pier E9 collapsed onto the deck below, indirectly causing one death. The bridge was closed for just over a month as construction crews repaired the section. It reopened on November 18 of that year. The lighter pavement of the replacement section is visible in aerial photographs, at the east end of the through-truss part of the bridge (37.8189°N 122.3442°W).
Western span retrofitting
The western suspension span has undergone extensive seismic retrofitting. During the retrofit, much of the structural steel supporting the bridge deck was replaced while the bridge remained open to traffic. Engineers accomplished this by using methods similar to those employed on the Chicago Skyway reconstruction project.
The entire bridge was fabricated using hot steel rivets, which are impossible to heat treat and so remain relatively soft. Analysis showed that these could fail by shearing under extreme stress, and so at most locations each was removed by burning out with an oxygen cutting torch, the hole precision reamed and the old rivets replaced with heat-treated high-strength locator bolts and nuts.[citation needed] This work had to be performed with great care as the steel of the structure had for many years been painted with lead based paint, which had to be carefully removed and contained by workers with extensive protective gear.  Obsolete hot riveted laced ties (left, eastern span) and bolted box beam retrofit (right, western span)  Most of the beams were originally constructed of two plate I-beams joined with lattices of flat strip or angle stock, depending upon structural requirements. These have all been reconstructed by replacing the riveted lattice elements with bolted steel plate and so converting the lattice beams into box beams. This replacement included adding face plates to the large diagonal beams joining the faces of the main towers, which now have an improved appearance when viewed from certain angles.

Diagonal box beams have been added to each bay of the upper and lower decks of the western spans. These add stiffness to reduce side-to-side motion during an earthquake and reduce the probability of damage to the decking surfaces.
Analysis showed that some massive concrete supports could burst and crumble under likely stresses. In particular the western supports were extensively modified. First, the location of existing reinforcing bar is determined using magnetic techniques. In areas between bars holes are drilled. Into these holes is inserted and glued an L-shaped bar that protrudes 15 to 25 centimeters (6 to 10 inches).[citation needed] This bar is retained in the hole with a high-strength epoxy adhesive. The entire surface of the structure is thus covered with closely spaced protrusions. A network of horizontal and vertical reinforcing bars is then attached to these protrusions. Mold surface plates are then positioned to retain high-strength concrete, which is then pumped into the void. After removal of the formwork the surface appears similar to the original concrete. This technique has been applied elsewhere throughout California to improve freeway overpass abutments and some overpass central supports which have unconventional shapes. (Other techniques such as jacket and grout are applied to simple vertical posts; see the seismic retrofit article.)
The western approaches have also been retrofitted in part, but mostly these have been replaced with new construction of reinforced concrete.

Eastern span replacement

Main article: Eastern span replacement of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge
The replacement span has undergone a number of design evolutions, both progressive and regressive, with increasing cost estimates and contractor bids. As of April 15, 2011, the single-towered self-anchored suspension span (SAS) tower is structurally complete, having had its crowning main cable saddle placed on May 19th and needs only the final tower head, which will be lifted and temporarily fitted later this year. All 28 deck segments on the SAS span are in place and undergoing final welding. The installation of the eastern deviation saddles and strand anchor points will be followed by main cable spinning and suspender cable placement.
This complex project was bidded on and undertaken by American Bridge and Fluor Corp, with lifting and support assistance provided by Enerpac. Enerpac’s digitally controlled synchronous hoisting and strand jacking systems are used to help construct the span’s massive 525 foot support tower, which makes the self-anchored suspension span possible.[30]
Separated and protected bicycle lanes are a visually prominent feature on the south side of the new east span. The bikeway will carry recreational and commuter cyclists between Oakland and Yerba Buena Island. The opening date for the new span is projected to be in late 2013.
Eastern Span – Original and Replacement

Final appearance (ca. 2014)

October 2009 Eyebar crack, repair failure and bridge closure
During the 2009 Labor Day weekend closure for a portion of the replacement, a major crack was found in an eyebar, significant enough to warrant bridge closure.[31] Working in parallel with the retrofit, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and its contractors and subcontractors, were able to design, engineer, fabricate, and install the pieces required to repair the bridge, delaying its planned opening by only 1½ hours. The repair was not inspected by the Federal Highway Administration, who relied on state inspection reports to ensure safety guidelines were met.[32]
On October 27, 2009, during the evening commute, the steel crossbeam and two steel tie rods repaired over Labor Day weekend[33] snapped off the Bay Bridge’s eastern span and fell to the upper deck.[34][35][36] The cause may have been due to metal-on-metal vibration from bridge traffic and wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour (90 km/h) causing failure of one rod which broke off, which then led to the metal section crashing down.[37] Three vehicles were either struck by or hit the fallen debris, though there were no injuries.[6][38][39][40] On November 1, Caltrans announced that the bridge would probably stay closed at least through the morning commute of Monday, November 2, after repairs performed during the weekend failed a stress test on Sunday.[41] BART and the Golden Gate Ferry systems added supplemental service to accommodate the increased passenger load during the bridge closure.[42] The bridge reopened to traffic on November 2, 2009.
The pieces which broke off on October 27 were a saddle, crossbars, and two tension rods.[6][43] For additional details see the Eastern span replacement of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge article.

Name

An unofficial[7] name of the bridge is The James “Sunny Jim” Rolph Bridge — but this name has rarely been used, and it was not widely recognized until the bridge’s 50th-anniversary celebrations in 1986. The official name of the bridge for all functional purposes has always been the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, and by most local people it is widely referred to as simply “The Bay Bridge”.
James Rolph, a Mayor of San Francisco from 1912 to 1931, was the Governor of California at the time construction began. He died in office on June 2, 1934, two years before the bridge opened, leaving the bridge to be named for him out of respect.[3] However, due to the opposition of Joseph R. Knowland, publisher of the Oakland Tribune at the time, recognition of Rolph was withheld.[citation needed] In 1932, with an inability to finance the bridge, Joseph R. Knowland, (a former US Congressman) travelled to Washington and helped to persuade President Herbert Hoover and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to advance $62 million for the building of the bridge.
Emperor Norton’s early work at promoting a bridge between the city and county of San Francisco and the city of Oakland and Alameda County was commemorated on December 14, 2004, when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a resolution calling for the new eastern span of the bridge to be named “The Emperor Norton Bridge”.[14] The resolution was introduced by San Francisco County Supervisor Aaron Peskin. Neither the city of Oakland nor Alameda County passed any similar resolution.
Plaques honoring the contributions of both Rolph and Norton exist. The Rolph plaque, originally placed at the west end of the bridge in San Francisco, was moved to the corner of Fifth and Bryant Streets in 1986 and removed entirely by Caltrans in 2006. The plaque honoring Emperor Norton for the original idea graced the western archway of the Transbay Terminal, the public transit depot, and the Greyhound bus depot at the west end of the bridge in downtown San Francisco.

Financing

When the Bay Bridge opened in 1936, the toll was 65 cents, collected in each direction.[28] Within months, the toll was lowered to 50 cents in order to compete with the ferry system, and finally to 25 cents since this was shown sufficient to pay off the original revenue bonds on schedule.[citation needed] As with other bridges of the era, passage was supposed to become free after completion of the repayment of the original bonds.
In the interest of reducing the cost of collecting tolls and of building additional toll booths, all bridges in the Bay Area were converted to collect tolls in only one direction, with the toll amount collected doubled.
Tolls were subsequently raised to finance improvements to the bridge approaches, required to connect with new freeways, and to subsidize public transit in order to reduce the traffic over the bridge.
Caltrans, the state highway transportation agency, maintains seven of the eight San Francisco Bay Area bridges. (The Golden Gate Bridge is owned and maintained by the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.)
The basic toll (for automobiles) on the seven state bridges was raised to $1 by Regional Measure 1, approved by Bay Area voters in 1988.[44] A $1 seismic retrofit surcharge was added in 1998 by the state legislature, originally for eight years, but since then extended to December 2037 (AB1171, October 2001).[45] On March 2, 2004, voters approved Regional Measure 2, raising the toll by another dollar to a total of $3. An additional dollar was added to the toll starting January 1, 2007, to cover cost overruns concerning the replacement of the eastern span.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a regional transportation agency, in its capacity as the Bay Area Toll Authority, administers RM1 and RM2 funds, a significant portion of which are allocated to public transit capital improvements and operating subsidies in the transportation corridors served by the bridges. Caltrans administers the “second dollar” seismic surcharge, and receives some of the MTC-administered funds to perform other maintenance work on the bridges. The Bay Area Toll Authority is made up of appointed officials put in place by various city and county governments, and is not subject to direct voter oversight.[46]
Due to further funding shortages for seismic retrofit projects, the Bay Area Toll Authority again raised tolls on all Bay Area bridges (excluding the Golden Gate Bridge) in July 2010.[47] The toll rate for autos on other Bay Area bridges was increased to $5, but in the Bay Bridge a variable pricing tolling scheme based on congestion was implemented. The Bay Bridge congestion pricing scheme charges a US$6 toll from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. During weekends cars pay US$5. Carpools before the implementation were exempted but now they pay US$2.50, and the carpool toll discount is now also available only to drivers with FasTrak electronic toll devices. The toll remained at the previous toll of US$4 at all other times on weekdays.[48][49] The Bay Area Toll Authority reported that by October 2010 fewer users are driving during the peak hours and more vehicles are crossing the Bay Bridge before and after the 5-10 a.m. period in which the congestion toll goes into effect. Commute delays in the first six months dropped by an average of 15% compared with 2009.

 

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