Beware the Bay Bridge S-Curve

Safety warnings stepped up in wake of crashes

New safety measures are in place along the Oakland Bay Bridge S-curve a day after a big-rig driver lost control on the section and went over the barrier, falling about 200 feet to Yerba Buena Island below.

The driver died and the truck was reduced to a pile of mangled debris.

The speed limit is 40 mph in the area and police said the driver was going 50 mph.

Electronic speed limit signs now show drivers how fast they are going, bright yellow arrow signs indicate that there is a curve coming up and reflective striping will help define the lanes for drivers. They are just a few of the safety measures now in place or going into place since the deadly accident highlighted the danger of the S-curve. Crews worked overnight Monday to start adding the safety measures.

"We're basically putting in everything we can think of now," Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said.  More signs are coming over the next few weeks to remind drivers of the lower speed limit, Ney said.

Safety has been an issue on the S-curve since the temporary section was put into place Labor Day weekend. Monday's crash was the 43rd since early September.

Caltrans officials Monday highlighted a host of safety measures that are in place or will be installed soon, and maintained that the problem is drivers' speed, not the bridge's design. Spokesman Bob Haus said there is nothing wrong with the design, adding speed was a factor in "every single" crash.

However, at least one Bay Area lawmaker Monday questioned the agency's emphasis on speed.

"California bridges and highways are designed to safely accommodate the fact that folks are going to exceed the speed limit on a  fairly frequent basis," said state Sen. Joe Simitian, who sits on the state  Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing.

He pointed out that the driver was only traveling 10 to 15 mph over the speed limit at the time of the crash.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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