Similar to the international celebrity status of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge gets all the press around here. And while the famous red bridge is certainly good looking (at least for the six days a year it’s not completely shrouded in fog), there’s another span that deserves some recognition of its own: The Bay Bridge.
Equally tall and eight times longer than the Golden Gate Bridge, The Bay Bridge connects the “city” of San Francisco to the hamlets of Oakland and Berkeley (imagine the illegitimate love-child of Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey).
I’m fascinated by the Bay Bridge for a few reasons:
1) It makes a pit-stop in a half-natural / half-man-made island called either Yerba Buena and/or Treasure Island. People may or may not live on this island, but there’s a marina, a few barracks of some sort and often a music and arts festival destination. Its Governors, Randall’s and Roosevelt Islands all rolled into one, with a cyborg T-101-esque archipelago tossed-in for good measure. Loves it.
2) The upper deck COLLAPSED in the 1989 earthquake. Coming from the east coast, earthquakes terrify me. The roadway was subsequently fixed and re-opened a few years later, but engineers realized that it really needed a massive seismic upgrade. However, the “city” could only afford half the work, so they’re now in the process of rebuilding only the eastern span. The western span should be fine though, right? Right???
My terror about this fact is compounded because:
3) It’s hella long! Including the spans, the bridge is 8.5 miles long! Once you get on it you drive, and drive, and drive…just waiting for the shaking and swaying to start at anytime! Not cool.
4) It’s free (no toll) if you cross in a car pool of three or more people…adorable!
5) Probably due to its lack of international notoriety and difficulty reaching the center span (there’s currently no pedestrian walkway) there are only a fraction of suicides on the Bay Bridge compared to its industry leading Golden sister around the bend. However, with the planned addition of a pedestrian pathway on the newly constructed eastern span fans are hoping the Bay Bridge can someday make the big leagues!