Central Station

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Bay Bridge turned 75 in November

We hear a lot about the future of the Bay Bridge in the news, but recently it was fun to hear about its past. November 12th, 2011 was the 75th anniversary of the opening of the bridge. 1936 was certainly pre-BART too, so its interesting to look back at what it was like back then when a number of Key system local train lines came from downtown Oakland, through the thriving working class residential neighborhood in West Oakland, and out the Key Route Pier, which spanned roughly 3 miles into the Bay toward Yerba Buena Island and where people transferred to Ferries to the San Francisco Ferry Building. West Oakland today may not have a trains running down every street, but we've got West Oakland BART nearby and between the bridge and the easy trip to the BART station I certainly appreciate the convenience of being right between downtown Oakland and San Francisco. Plus, not to digress in a post about the bridge, I hear rumors that the proposed Oakland light rail currently being studied could connect West Oakland to downtown and Jack London Square.

Back to the bridge, a little construction history:

Talks about building a Bay-spanning bridge began during the Gold Rush, when the transcontinental railroad was completed -- with San Francisco on the wrong side of the Bay… Finally, in 1933, workers broke ground. At points, the bay was 100-feet deep, with thick layers of mud covering the bedrock. Workers thus drove entire old-growth fir trees through the mud to act as pilings. The complete project took three years and five months and cost about $77 million -- $6 million under budget.
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/11/bay-bridge-anniversary_n_1087376.html

I personally like the comment about San Francisco being on the wrong side of the Bay, but I think they mean it differently. For more reminiscing about the Bridge’s history, you can check out the Bay Bridge’s Facebook page (really) at https://www.facebook.com/SFOBBMemories?sk=wall.

In honor of the big birthday, Governor (and former Oakland mayor) Jerry Brown said "the Bay Bridge has provided the region with the vital transportation link to support the thriving economic vitality that the Bay Area is known for." That critical link is why the region, state, and federal governments are pitching in the $6.3 billion dollars to build the new east span. The east span is supposed to open to traffic in 2013.

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