hacker emblem
jaegerfesting
Search | Tags | Photos | Flights | Gas Mileage | Log in

New Bay Bridge

Started: 2014-01-11 16:42:53

Submitted: 2014-01-11 17:46:04

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator spends the last two days of 2013 in California

After spending a few days in San Francisco, we drove up to Sacramento to visit my grandparents. They were thrilled to see Calvin (and seemed happy to see me as well). They still live in the only house I've ever visited them in; I remember driving across the Bay Bridge up to Sacramento to visit them for Christmas when we lived in the suburbs south of San Francisco. We slept in the main-floor guest bedroom that I remember sharing with my family when I was a kid -- only this time I got the bed and Calvin slept on the floor.

On Monday we visited the California State Railroad Museum. We last visited the museum just over a year ago, so I focused on the interpretive displays and other materials rather than gawking at the trains themselves. The museum focuses on the construction of the trans-continental railroad in the 1860s, especially the stretch through the Sierra Nevada mountains. One thing I found interesting was the note that, at the time the railroad was being built, California had virtually no industrial capacity, so every manufactured piece used in the construction of the railroad -- the engines, the rolling stock, even the rails themselves -- had to be shipped from the East Coast or Europe to the railhead in Sacramento. Only when the railroad was completed could it be used to transport the materials needed to sustain itself and expand elsewhere. I thought it was an interesting comment on technology transfer and globalization in the nineteenth century.

We ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant down the street from the museum in old town Sacramento, then drove to Sutter's Fort. I recall visiting the fort as a kid when they had historical reenactors in period costume doing historical chores. On our visit the reenactors were absent; Calvin mostly ran around in the enclosed middle of the fort. I'm not sure how much Calvin got out of the visit; he lacked the attention span to listen to the motion-activated narration in the rooms around the fort.

Calvin and Kiesa at Sutter's Fort
Calvin and Kiesa at Sutter's Fort

We stayed one more night in Sacramento before driving back to San Francisco on Tuesday morning to catch our flight home, after getting a photo with my grandparents.

Calvin with Jaeger, Kiesa, and his Logan Great-Grandparents
Calvin with Jaeger, Kiesa, and his Logan Great-Grandparents

We had enough time built into our schedule to make one stop on the way to the airport. Kiesa wanted to visit the redwood trees at Muir Woods, reprising our stop from our last visit to San Francisco in 2005, but it was too far out of the way to make a good waypoint. I decided instead to visit the New Bay Bridge, since we'd be driving right over it on our way to the airport.

The Bay Bridge first opened in the 1930s with two distinct sections: an elegant suspension span connecting San Francisco to Yerba Buena Island in the middle of the bay, and a hulking cantilever truss section (that only an engineer could love) going the rest of the way to Oakland. The eastern span fared poorly in the Loma Prieda Earthquake in 1989; a section of bridge deck collapsed onto the lower deck, closing the bridge for a month and contributing one of the iconic images of the earthquake. The immediate damage was repaired but a comprehensive seismic study suggested the bridge be scrapped and replaced. This proved easier said than done; after decades of political wrangling the replacement eastern span of the bridge finally opened a few months ago -- twenty-four years after the earthquake. (I have a photo of the piers under construction in 2005.)

Old and New eastern span of the Bay Bridge
Old and New eastern span of the Bay Bridge

Along with its cutting-edge design and sleek lines, the New Bay Bridge features a path along the side of the bridge for pedestrian and bike traffic. (At this moment the path ends a hundred meters from Yerba Buena Island, but the plan is to connect it to the island and ultimately to San Francisco.) I found the parking lot along a mostly-deserted section of the Port of Oakland and we set out to walk to the bridge. (I knew we wouldn't have enough time to walk all the way to the end of the path but I hoped we'd at least be able to set foot on the new bridge itself.) The whole thing had the feeling of something that wasn't quite done yet; at times the path was delineated by Jersey barriers between construction zones, and the final stretch leading up to the bridge (where Kiesa is carrying Calvin in the photo below) was obviously a temporary structure while they finished the eastern approach.

Kiesa and Calvin with the Old Bay Bridge
Kiesa and Calvin with the Old Bay Bridge

The eastern edge of the upper deck of the Old Bay Bridge had been cut away to make room for the new bridge, rendering it a bridge to nowhere.

The eastern end of the Old Bay Bridge
The eastern end of the Old Bay Bridge

We made it to the bridge with only a few minutes to spare before our turn-around time. I walked a hundred meters or so onto the bridge, with a great view of the derelict Old Bay Bridge.

Jaeger on the New Bay Bridge
Jaeger on the New Bay Bridge

We returned to our car and drove across the New Bay Bridge and on into San Francisco, past the bitter end of I-80, and on to the airport. My lunch took far longer to arrive than I expected, and by the time I reached our gate our flight was already boarding, but we embarked without further incident and made it home on New Year's Eve with plenty of time to put Calvin to bed, unpack, and celebrate the new year.

I have a few more photos from New Year's Eve, mostly of the Bay Bridges, at Photos on 2013-12-31.
i'll go sacrifice ken, oops, i mean great spiritual monkeys to the gods,
and keep my fingers crossed.
- Scott Galvin, 01 May 1999