The workhorse of Bay Area bridges – the Bay Bridge – turns 75 years old on Saturday without any big fuss. A modest invitation-only celebration will be held Thursday morning on Treasure Island, but it is not open to the general public. “With the bridge being a state owned facility, there aren’t the resources to throw a big party or have fireworks,” said John Goodwin, spokesman for the Bay Area Toll Authority, a partner with Caltrans in operating the toll bridge. “We’re trying to do something on a shoe string.”
If you have any favorite memories of driving over the Bay Bridge, share them with us at the bottom of this post. Personally, I’m just glad I was never in a car that broke down on the Bay Bridge. I don’t relish the thought of blocking traffic in a high narrow spot.
The 75-year-old span is getting overshadowed these days by the $6.3 billion eastern span being built to replace the seismically vulnerable section of the Bay Bridge between Oakland and Yerba Buena Island.
“Think of the bridges as a family,” Goodwin explained. “We’ve got grandpa turning 75. That is all well and good. But we’ve got a baby on the way.”
Cake will be served. And an honored guest will 25-year-old Rebecca Ghaly, who was actually born on the bridge 25 years ago when her mom gave birth earlier than expected
Goodwin said there will be more of a celebration to mark the completion of the new eastern span in 2013. Details are to be figured out.
Bridge celebrations can be enormously popular but expensive.
The toll authority and a party planning company originally proposed a $590,000 public event to dedicate the new Benicia-Martinez Bridge in 2007, but scaled back the event in response to public criticism of spending so much.
Four years earlier in 2003, some 20,000 people showed up in Crockett for the dedication of the Al Zampa Bridge across the Carquinez Strait. The long waits for buses to shuttle the public to and from the event tarnished an otherwise upbeat event and spirited street party in Crockett.
Some time after the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge opens in late 2013, a museum to showcase the Bay Area bridges is expected to open at the foot of the eastern span in a proposed waterfront park in Oakland. Public meetings on the plan likely will be held in early 2012, Goodwin said.