The New Bay Bridge Span: Connecting the 20th and 21st Centuries

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Standing on the new Bay Bridge span looking at the old Bay Bridge span

Standing on the new Bay Bridge span looking at the old Bay Bridge span

Lately, I’ve been blogging about local bridges. I guess growing up in the San Francisco Bay area can be something to write about. I’ve always enjoyed going over the Bay Bridge or Golden Gate. Luckily, I don’t need to commute over either. So, it is still a treat to view San Francisco, or look out over the bay while transversing one of the famous bridges.

In 1989, I was working at Macy’s when the earthquake hit. I listened in the parking lot as KCBS, the only radio station still broadcasting, reported the Bay Bridge collapse. Of course, my power was out at home, and wasn’t restored until the next day. All I had to go on were the reports from the radio or telephone. There was no internet in 1989 for the common folk.

So, when I saw the pictures on TV the next day, I was shocked by the freeway collapse of 880 and the Bay Bridge span that fell from the upper to lower deck. Really, it would be scary to imagine myself on the Bay Bridge during the earthquake.

Almost 25 years later, the Bay Bridge span from Treasure Island to Oakland has finally been replaced. Local news coverage does not do it justice. It is the only Bay Bridge with a suspended bike lane. So, I had to explore this unique way to see the span.

On the new Bay Bridge span at the tour on the new biking trail.

On the new Bay Bridge span at the tower on the new biking trail.

I conquered riding up the new Bay Bridge span on Sept. 22, 2013. The new span opened on Sept. 2, 2013. So, this new territory of bridge is fresh and new for the locals as well as the world. I have to admit, the experience of riding next to the old span really puts things in perspective. It is like being in two worlds.

Riding on the 21st century span gazing at the 20th century span gives you time to reflect on this new century. The ghostly empty old span is a stark reminder of the ideals of the 20th century, build, build, and hope it lasts. The new span is graceful and thinking of generations ahead that will use it. A bike lane gives access soon to Treasure Island for riders, but also considers the needs of the future generation.

The old Bay Bridge span now closed to traffic.

The old Bay Bridge span now closed to traffic.

As I stood at the top of the span, I remembered the times as a kid crossing the other span. It was the other century now, and I was standing on something that didn’t exist until now. It was like being in a gateway between the two centuries. I imagined that the new Bay Bridge span will eventually dull from it’s splendid white, turn a yellow, and maybe become an everyday reminder to the beginning of the 21st century. One day, someone will look at the pictures of it’s beginning and wonder what all the people thought when it opened and the old span still stood. Hopefully, they’ll know from our posts and pictures. It will be a generation’s legacy to be remembered.

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