Thursday, October 29, 2009

Commuted Sentence

If you don't actually live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the news that the Bay Bridge was closed may come as a little slice of "that's kind of interesting." Many may assume that the bridge in question is the iconic Golden Gate. A simple enough mistake to make, given its landmark distinction, but the Bay Bridge is the one that does all the heavy lifting. It's the commuter bridge that takes people from all across the East Bay and funnels them into San Francisco. On a good day, it's not pretty. More than a quarter of a million cars, most of them heading west in the morning, then racing back east when the day is done.
And that's why they're building a new one. Over the Labor Day weekend, as construction raced ahead and the bridge was closed during the holiday, a crack in a structural beam was discovered, and in addition to placing a vast new section of temporary roadbed in anticipation of the new span, crews had to work overtime to get everything back in place for the Tuesday morning commute. It was an epic piece of engineering and manpower. Everyone was so pleasantly amazed to see this major thoroughfare back in working order, even with the additional work. And that masterpiece lasted seven weeks.
At the height of Tuesday's commute, the patch gave way. The crossbeam and a second tie rod tore away and fell to the upper deck of the bridge. Three cars were damaged, and one driver was injured by flying glass. That's the good news. Now the ridiculous news: Contractors are blaming high winds for the mishap. Thirty mile an hour winds. That counts as "severe weather" out here, but is by no means in the category of 7.9 on the Richter scale. A little wind is one thing, but what happens when the earth starts to quake?
All of this made me grateful for the commute I make, two miles on two wheels primarily on side streets, five days a week. And as for my co-workers who make the trip to and from, paying toll each time they enter "The City," I wish for them a speedy return to a safe and relatively sound Bay Bridge. Or maybe a BART pass, since traveling a hundred and thirty-five feet under water in a concrete tube feels so much safer.

1 comment:

Mrs. Id said...

I'd like to point out that they built the entire cantilever in less than three years! And the engineers used slide rules and sharp pencils! During the Depression!