New Bay Bridge design debuts after years of strife
01 September 2013
Ph: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
For many Bay Area residents, the shimmering white eastern span of the Bay Bridge can't be viewed apart from its construction travails or the costly delays and political spats that preceded its completion. For the architects and engineers who selected the unusual suspension bridge design way back in 1998, Tuesday is a day long overdue. And as the 2.2-mile span becomes part of the region's daily landscape, they are confident that the result will prove worth the wait.
"We made the basic decision of selecting the alignment," said John Kriken of Skidmore Owings & Merrill, who co-chaired the advisory panel appointed by the Bay Bridge Design Task Force. Heading east past Yerba Buena Island "you'll be looking at the East Bay hills and then turn slightly toward Oakland to give it more of a presence. It's a better entry to the East Bay."
The same point is made by panel member Karen Alschuler of Perkins + Will.
"People are going to be amazed as they drive through the tunnel and come out into the open air," Alschuler said. As for the self-anchored bridge, unprecedented at this scale, "the new span had to be about the future. The fact there were some challenges to be worked out added to the excitement of it."
Of course, those challenges also added to the cost and construction timeline of the project. But not nearly as much as the various political fights and delays, panel members point out.
"Ten years from now, 25 years from now, nobody's going to look at the east span and think about the closings or delays," predicted Ephraim Hirsch, an engineer who served on the panel.