Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Bridge Too Far

One day when I get one a them newfangled self-driving automobiles, I’ll be able to sit in the passenger seat and take semidecent pictures while I tool along down the highway. Till then, as I change lanes with my cell phone in one hand and my camera in the other, you get pictures like this.

This is the new San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. Well, it’s half of the bridge. CalTrans is replacing the half that stretches from Yerba Buena Island to Oakland, the cantilever half that almost dumped a section into the San Francisco Bay during the World Series earthquake back in ’89. That section got fixed ages ago, but CalTrans wants a more modern bridge.

What you see is mostly the old bridge, which I think is beautiful, but I have a funny aesthetic. Everyone still drives on the old bridge for now.

If you look closely under the deck of the old bridge, you’ll see the new bridge creeping along from shore (on the left) toward the island. Major budget arguments have raged in Sacramento over whether it’s worth putting up a more expensive but iconic suspension span, or whether they should just have a glorified freeway onramp that leads as far as Yerba Buena, at which point drivers will enter the majestic suspension bridge that stretches from there to the city by the Golden Gate.

Apparently so far the budget is covering the freeway onramp.

I’ve seen it from closer up, but it’s hard to squeeze off shots from the old Bay Bridge. (It’s hard enough to catch a glimpse, since the new roadway is at a lower level than the old.) This is from the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge, which starts at San Quentin Prison and rises, and falls, and rises, and falls, over to the East Bay. I could be remembering wrong, but I think there was a Sacramento budget battle over that one too. Something about whether the state could afford a span high enough for freighters to pass under, or couldn’t afford it, or could afford it, or couldn’t afford it.

Ah, legislators.

1 comment:

CaliforniaGirl said...

They think they saved money by lowering the towers between the channels. That is what happens when committees are in charge of monuments.