Friday, July 13, 2007

The Other Bridge, Part One

Visitors to San Francisco always visit the Golden Gate Bridge, stopping to take pictures and maybe walk across, but few people pay any attention to the Bay Bridge, which connects SF to Oakland. It was built at about the same time as the Golden Gate Bridge, and was actually finished a year earlier, yet it gets no respect. Why? Because it's sorta ugly. Well, maybe not ugly, but certainly utilitarian. Here are a few picture I took while crossing the bridge one day. Any spots you may see on these pictures are dead bugs on the windshield of the Jeep, so please ignore them. At the time of it's construction, there was a lower level of the bridge created for streetcars, light rail, trucks and buses. Over time the rail system was routed through a tunnel under SF Bay, so the lower section was eventually dedicated to East-bound traffic, people leaving SF, while the upper deck was for people heading into SF. Imagine that, everyone wanted to see the view of SF, but no one cared about seeing Oakland. The shot above is the view from the lower lanes. Not very scenic, is it?

The shot above is from a spot close to the shot at the top, only this time you're on the upper deck. Much more attractive, don't you think? The bridge was built in two halves, SF paying for one half, Oakland paying for the other. This view is the Oakland side. It was on the Oakland side that part of the roadway collapsed during an earthquake a few years ago. They went through after that and did a lot of work to try and prevent that from happening again. They don't seem to have a lot of confidence in that work, however. They are in the process of building a whole new bridge just to the north of this span. From the looks of what they've completed so far, it might be a little prettier.

Connecting the two halves is a large tunnel drilled through the rock of Yerba Buena Island. Look close and you can see all the way through the tunnel in this shot. I was pretty happy with that. You can exit off onto the island, but you take you life into your own hands exiting and getting back on. There isn't much in the way of an exit ramp or a merge lane when re-entering. The view from Yerba Buena and Treasure Island is worth the danger, though.

The SF side of the bridge is much more picturesque. If they were to paint it International Orange, it might even look familiar. Not the same, but similar. I've got more pictures of the Bay Bridge from places other then the bridge itself, but I'm saving those for another post.

1 comment:

Sunlion said...

Ernie (Not Bert),

Thank you for the shots of these Oakland and San Francisco bridges, along with the travelogue! Your eye for these things that many of us just pass on by without thinking about are very special! Perhaps an "Ernie (Not Bert)" Travel Book should be in the planning?
Thank you for sharing!