I’ve always been slightly peeved by the fact that the History Channel has obsessed over certain subjects to the detriment of providing programming about a wide range of historical topics. First it was World War II, and lately it’s been engineering. I’d rather tune in to tales of the Selucids or the roots of American Progressivism.
Tonight’s “Modern Marvels” documentary on the Bay Bridge updates the story of the Bay Area’s public works albatross with the 2005 chapter of Caltrans’ seemingly endless quest for a contract for the signature self-anchored suspension span.
The fact that the show first aired on April 19 means that that whole issue is, however, truly history.
That’s because the day before, Caltrans Director Wil Kempton and state and local transportation officials stood under a tent on San Francisco’s Pier 30 and signed a letter accepting the $1.43 billion bid to build the unique new span on the east side of Yerba Buena Island.
The project, replacing the span damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, still promises plenty more for us transportation writers to sink our teeth into. At least there’s someone — a combo of Pennsylvania-based American Bridge, which built both spans that opened in 1936, and Fluor Enterprises of Irving, Texas — willing to build the thing.
I’m guessing that the documentarians will be back for at least one more update before the bridge is due to open in 2013.