Bay Bridge S Curve Changes in the Works

Thursday, Oct 15, 2009  |  Updated 10:30 AM PDT
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Eastbound Bay Bridge Simulation Post Labor Day

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S-Curve Proves Costly on Bay Bridge

Changes were in the works even before a Safeway truck overturned on the Bay Bridge wrecking the commute home for tens of thousands of drivers.

Westbound Simulation Post Labor Day

This is what it will look like for drivers headed into the City after Labor Day.
More Photos and Videos

That new S curve on the Bay Bridge certainly has the Bay Area's attention.

A Safeway truck overturned Wednesday blocking traffic for hours on the upper deck. 

The crash happened at about 2:30 p.m. when the driver tried to slow down as he entered the new S-curve section but lost control and crashed.  The top of the truck's trailer ripped open, spilling its contents onto the road.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash, which CHP spokesman Shawn Chase called  "a minor miracle."

"It was very fortunate," Chase said. "He went across all four lanes and didn't hit anyone."

The driver reported pain in his lower leg but is "fine," Chase  said.

Chase said the driver has been working for Safeway for some time and has navigated the Bay Bridge many times, but this was the first time with the newly added section.  He told investigators he was driving at 55 mph at the  time, saw a 40-mph sign at the beginning of the S-curve zone and slowed down  too late.

According to the CHP, it is the 33rd wreck linked to the new section since it open the week after Labor Day.   Twenty-two crashes happened in the eastbound direction and 11 were westbound.

Chase said "there's no doubt" that the S-curve has been the cause  of the majority of Bay Bridge crashes since it was put in place.

Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said in the wake of the crashes at that curve, the agency will begin installing further safety  precautions in the coming days.

The changes include additional 40-mph-zone signage, radar  signs displaying vehicle speed, and an epoxy grit surface over steel plates at both ends of the S-curve for better traction.

Caltrans is also considering adding "rumble bumps," reflectors that make a noise when drivers cross them, at the approaches to the S-curve, Ney said.

On the bridge today, construction crews will be lowering and  dismantling the 300-foot, double-deck section of the bridge that was removed  during the Labor Day weekend project, Ney said.

 That section of bridge weighs 3,200 tons and will be lowered  straight to the ground on Yerba Buena Island where it will be taken apart and  recycled, he said.

The S-curve is expected to be in place for three or four years.  The new eastern span is scheduled to open in 2013.

Bay City News contributed to this article.

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