Flatiron Completes Final Operation to Open San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
These past few days have been an exciting time for all of those in the San Francisco and Oakland area. On Monday, September 2 at 10 p.m., well before the 5 a.m. Tuesday deadline, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge reopened to traffic after a four day closure.
Flatiron Construction is proud to have been part of the final operation to open to traffic over the last few days. Work started on Wednesday evening, and multiple crews (totaling 350 people in all) worked 12-hour alternating shifts continuously to Monday afternoon. Despite the large team and around-the-clock work, crews completed the traffic switch operation with no safety incidents.
Cars filled with families lined up Monday night in order to be some of the first to cross the new eastern span. This new span replaces a structure that was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The replacement span is designed to withstand the strongest earthquake estimated by seismologists to occur at the site over a 1,500-year period. Andrew Gordon, a spokesman for the agencies overseeing the project, said the area is “getting a beautiful new bridge that rivals anything in the Bay Area. More importantly, they’re also getting one of the most seismically safe bridges in the world.”
Flatiron’s first work on the new Bay Bridge began more than a decade ago on the more than $1 billion Skyway project, completed in 2008. The contract was one of 20 awarded to replace the entire eastern span of the bridge connecting Oakland with Yerba Buena Island. The more recent $30 million Oakland Touchdown project included construction of the last 450 feet of cast-in-place, post-tensioned, box girder bridge that connected the new eastern span of the bridge to Oakland. Flatiron was also responsible for a mile of approach roadway and building an access trestle, in addition to the traffic switch operation.
The new bridge is actually two parallel bridges with 10 lanes of traffic and four full-width shoulders. As one of the nation’s busiest bridges, it will be used by up to 280,000 vehicles daily.
Not only are drivers happy with the new structure, but also pedestrians and cyclists are happy with the opening of a portion of the 15.5-foot wide bicycle/pedestrian path. This pathway, although not yet running the full length of the new span, will become a local attraction in itself. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan stated, “Just enjoying that [the pathway] will become an experience that people all over the Bay Area, and probably all over the world, are going to want to have.”
While the excitement can still be felt, we appreciated one quote from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, “I hope this is more than just connecting two land masses,” he said. “I hope that the progress that’s being represented at this moment is for a generation to dream big dreams and to do big things.”
Richard Grabinski, Flatiron vice president and Benicia district manager, was on-site for the final operation and opening, and had this to say about the hard work of the Flatiron crew:
“The project got tremendous support from all our other projects and staff across the region. I am especially pleased that with our around the clock work we had zero safety incidents. This is exceptional considering the difficulty of working around the clock, and the number of employees and subcontractors on site. This is the result of our careful preparation, planning and ultimately our strong safety culture. Thanks again to everyone for all your efforts and hard work – this was really a huge accomplishment for which all of us at Flatiron should be proud.”
Social media was also abuzz featuring everything from fun photos on Instagram to excited, supportive tweets on Twitter. The energy around the bridge opening can truly be seen online. Here are some of our favorite tweets from the last few days:
Director of Caltrans @MalcolmXdough gives speech celebrating safety and the opening of the #BayBridge pic.twitter.com/kManKGaNsD
— Caltrans District 4 (@CaltransD4) September 2, 2013
Fresh asphalt on the oakland approach. #BayBridge pic.twitter.com/ROQbsjaTiR
— Bay Bridge (@BayBridgeInfo) August 31, 2013
The new #BayBridge is now open for business! It has been a long quest for an iconic bridge that brings seismic safety to motorist. Congrats — Malcolm Dougherty (@MalcolmXdough) September 3, 2013
Check out this 1936 Bay Bridge news clip that includes the chain cutting event! http://t.co/YbdC5K0NWn … — CaltransHQ (@CaltransHQ) September 5, 2013
#BayBridge ‘Motorists will enjoy the driving experience on the new bridge,’ CHP spokesman Dan Hill said. — Lisa Vorderbrueggen (@lvorderbrueggen) September 1, 2013
Out with the old, in with the new: “No Driving Across SF Bay, as Old Bridge Closes To Make Way for New” http://t.co/k4hrqSM7ad — ASCE Headquarters (@ASCETweets) August 29, 2013
Cut chain on #BayBridge, icon of human ingenuity, thriving economy & will protect us from forces beyond our control pic.twitter.com/0KO2Ev1I23 — Edwin Lee (@mayoredlee) September 3, 2013
#BREAKING: The new #BayBridge is now open to traffic in both directions. It’s open ahead of the planned Tuesday 5 a.m. deadline.
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsBayArea) September 3, 2013
Bay area folks should thank a Civil Engineer for this-Congrats! RT @nbcbayarea New Bay Bridge Opens Ahead of Schedule http://t.co/ngX85OGjOP
— Joshua Nelson (@JoshNelson) September 3, 2013
Be sure to take a glimpse at this incredible photo gallery of workers on the bridge by photographer, Joseph A. Blum. If you’d like to join the conversation, many people are using the hashtag #BayBridge to discuss their excitement for the opening. Be sure to follow Flatiron Construction on Twitter at @flatironcorp while you’re at it, and tell us your favorite part about the new bridge!