Crews are said to be making steady progress on the eastern span on the Bay Bridge. NBC Bay Area's Kimberly Tere reports.
Weekend construction work is proceeding as planned on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which is on schedule to open to traffic early Tuesday morning, a bridge spokesman said Sunday.
"We haven't encountered any problems beyond the occasional slowdown that you'd expect with any construction project," spokesman Andrew Gordon said of work taking place since the bridge closed Wednesday night.
Crews have been paving the roadway on east and westbound portions of the new 2.2-mile span, installing barriers, power-washing the Treasure Island tunnels, polishing lights, and demolishing part of the old approach to the eastern span from Oakland, Gordon said.
On Sunday, crews will finish paving an area around the toll plaza and continue painting lane stripes on both directions of the new portion of the bridge, Gordon said.
Caltrans said section of the pedestrian bicycle path are being lowered into place Sunday.
The work was progressing as planned and the bridge was expected to open to the public at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Gordon said. As of this morning,there were no plans to open any earlier.
"Everyone wants to open the bridge as quickly and safely as possible," Gordon said. "At this time we know the bridge will open at 5 a.m. on Tuesday."
Drivers are not the only ones anticipating the opening of the new eastern span. Gordon said bikers will also have something to look forward to.
"This is a continuation of the Bay Trail which extends down the shorelines of Emeryville and Berkeley and Oakland and we really wanted it to tie into the natural setting of that part of the bike path," Gordon said.
When it opens at noon Tuesday, the bike path will only be one-third complete. The public will be allowed to go just past the tower of the new suspension bridge.
"Looking forward to it," bicyclist Romando Lucchesi said. "I think once it opens up, I definitely want to be one of the first to ride on it, you know?"
The rest of the path, which will lead to Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands, will not be accessible until 2015 because crews need to demolish the old bridge in order to make room for the rest of the path.
"It would be nice if they could get a bike lane that goes all the way across but at least in a couple years, we’ll have it halfway at least," bicyclist Tom Liu said.
Gordon also said they are looking forward to add a bike lane to the western span, but there are no promises.
"It’s a very complex process--it’s a very expensive process," Gordon said. "That process is being still vetted and explored."
As for drivers, CHP said they should prepare themselves for a very different perspective of San Francisco Bay from the bridge. While drivers may be tempted to gawk, anyone seen taking photos or video while driving, or who pulls over onto the new shoulders for a look, will be cited.
"We want to remind people that though the bridge has a very nice view, it is still at its base a vehicular crossing people use on a daily basis to get home and to work and that safe driving is paramount on this bridge," CHP Officer Daniel Hill said.
Elected officials and local luminaries were expected to attend a ceremonial "chain-cutting" near the toll plaza on Monday afternoon, though Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin was tight-lipped about naming attendees.
"The list is very fluid," Goodwin said. "There will be a special guest, but I'm not naming any names."
BART ridership swelled to its second-highest ever Saturday as the agency increased weekend trains, which ran around the clock, between San Francisco and the East Bay to accommodate the Bay Bridge closure.
BART registered an estimated 278,858 trips on the system on Saturday, second only to Oct. 6, 2012, when a record-breaking number of passengers boarded BART to travel to a full plate of events around the Bay that included Fleet Week, America's Cup races, an A's baseball game, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park, and a Justin Bieber concert.
"The BART is good, lot of people using the BART, and there was a game tonight over there, so a lot of rush," BART rider Shakeel Siddiqui said.
Early Tuesday morning, there will be a window of time that there will be no BART service to get over the Bay Bridge. That will happen between the hours of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.
The Golden Gate Bridge had backups Sunday, possibly because of the Bay Bridge shutdown. All weekend long, the Golden Gate Bridge district is warning drivers to expect delays of one-to-two hours in and out of San Francisco.
Even with the new electronic toll gate, traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge was heavy in both direction, but even more so in the southbound lanes as the day went on.
Traffic was also heavier than usual on 19th Avenue and Doyle Drive, but some people who planned to drive in and out of San Francisco this weekend knew to bring their patience.
Julieta Bejar of Monterey said she kept her car full of children "distracted with the sites" to get through the heavy traffic in San Francisco.
The most current information on the opening of the Bay Bridge is available online at www.baybridgeinfo.org.