Emily Badger is a former staff writer at CityLab. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area.
California's largest public works project is finally open to traffic.
The new span of the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland has been under construction for 11 years, during which time it grew to become the largest public works project in California history. At final tally, the construction cost $6.4 billion, five times what the bill looked like a decade ago. And in all that time, the project has been famously dogged by political controversy, construction delays, and engineering flaws.
Monday night, though, at 10:15 p.m. local time, officials re-opened the eastern span of the bridge to great fanfare and a backup of waiting vehicles eager to be among the first to finally cross it (after all those delays, at least it opened a few hours ahead of schedule!). The long-awaited day came 24 years after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused part of the original bridge to collapse. That disaster forced the state to confront the reality that many of its bridges were ill-prepared for earthquakes. The new span is meant to be both an architectural spectacle and a "seismic safety project."
Since 2008, video cameras at the construction site have documented every moment of the painstakingly slow process to complete the bridge. In the below timelapse video, you can watch that progress in a much more satisfying four minutes of film:
Top image of the Bay Bridge moments after it re-opened: Stephen Lam/Reuters