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Archive for the 'Bay Bridge' Category

the warm, fuzzy politics of bike-to-work


My Bike-to-Work Day started out really well this year, at least on a personal level.

Last year, I was a total fraud, driving the Honda Civic with the bike shoved in the back so I could use it as a prop to blend in. It’s not easy to get from Point A to B to C in the space of two hours and still report on this thing when you have to pedal a good distance.

But this morning I got off the train at Emeryville at 7:15 a.m., did some reporting at the Civic Center, and managed to get to Oakland City Hall quick enough to spend some quality time with the city’s most notable cyclists.

And a funny thing happened on my way to shrink my carbon footprint.

The traditional bike-to-work story is somewhat fluffy, but Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 15th, 2008
Under: Bay Bridge, Bicycling, Bridges, Caltrans, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), driving, global warming, Retrofitting, Transit vs. driving | 5 Comments »

violence pays off for Bay Bridge


I can’t bear to see the Golden Gate Bridge steal all the attention, what with Tibet backers unfurling banners in preparation for the Olympic Torch sputtering through town Wednesday, from the really exciting news about the Bay Bridge.

I heard today that on Friday there will be a ribbon-cutting on the West Approach in San Francisco. I already wrote about how the project would be finished seven months early. But my initial report said middle of this month, and now it looks like it’s going to be Saturday, April 12.

Like the conquest of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 7th, 2008
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, driving, Freeways, Retrofitting, Safety | 2 Comments »

burning bridges at Caltrans


Normally, when Caltrans talks about safety, I’m inclined to take what they say at face value. But when they start messing with my compagni di biciclette, I have to wonder.

Thus it was this week when I heard that Caltrans District 4 Director Bijan Sartipi explained to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission that a bike lane across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was, in a word, impossibile.


It’s too dangerous. Cars might run into the moveable concrete barrier separating the bikes and pedestrians from traffic lanes and they might bounce back into the other traffic lane, creating worse accidents.

I can see that. As a matter of fact, this morning on my way down I-80 in Albany, I not only put my anti-lock brakes to the test when traffic suddenly went Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, February 15th, 2008
Under: Bay Bridge, Bicycling, Bridges, Caltrans, driving, Environment, Freeways, Funding, Retrofitting, Safety, tolls | 6 Comments »

the 63% solution

Yesterday I read among the comments to last week’s post on fixing federal transportation funding that the Bay Area spends two-thirds of its transportation money on public transportation while barely one-tenth of commuters actually use it.

Another comment expressed incredulity over that figure, considering how much money it takes to maintain roads and highways, not to mention the $5.7 billion going into replacing the Bay Bridge’s eastern span.

But the immediately apparent bottom line is correct, according to Randy Rentschler, spokesman and lobbyist for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The commission’s initial framework for its 2030 transportation and growth plan calls for 63 percent of the revenue the Bay Area receives to be spent on public transportation. That’s comparable to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2008
Under: BART, Bay Bridge, Bridges, driving, Environment, fuel, Funding, Transit vs. driving | 25 Comments »

don’t stick a fork in it just yet


In one of those happy accidents that can only happen to the easily distracted, I found a blog dedicated to pointing out the most expensive whatever.

I had received a Google alert (I haven’t started my Google boycott just yet; it’s just so darned useful) that fond a mention of the Bay Bridge in It was a photo of fireworks with the Bay Bridge just visible, and it referred to the bridge as the James “Sunny Jim” Rolph Bay Bridge.

I was sure I had heard the name in passing, but was disturbed that if this was the official name of the bridge, I should know more about it. So I did a bit of searching and found out that Sunny Jim was Mayor of San Francisco, Depression-era leader of the Golden State and was also known as “Governor Lynch” for his praise of a San Jose mob that dispatched a couple of kidnapping suspects. I learned that he died two years before the bridge opened in 1936 and was reminded that there was a time in this country that such a naming was a memorial, not a lifetime achievement award.

Anyway, one of the search results was a Dec. 27 blog post on, which chronicles anything that fits the name of the blog, including such things as an $880 pair of microscopic dice and a $32,000 astronaut-headed PEZ dispenser (Did you know that “PEZ” derives from Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008
Under: Bay Bridge | 2 Comments »

2007 was a gas, gas gas … or was it?

Today I accosted several of my colleagues and asked them if they’d miss 2007.

The answer was pretty much “no” all around, with the most convincing story coming from a person who’d bought a house with a sub-prime mortgage.

In the area of transportation, especially in the Bay Area, I’d have to say 2007 was a very Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, December 31st, 2007
Under: BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, fuel, Retrofitting, Safety, Transit vs. driving | 11 Comments »

for whom the debt tolls


In his first report on the California’s indebtedness, state treasurer Bill Lockyer’s graphic artist elicited a few chuckles at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a.k.a the Bay Area Toll Authority.

The Debt Affordability Report has a lovely picture of hands holding binoculars, the right lens containing the Bay Bridge’s $1 billion skyway section and the left fitted with the $1.43 billion Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, driving, Funding, Retrofitting, Safety, tolls | No Comments »

taking the commuting out of telecommuting


We love to complain about traffic congestion, or I wouldn’t have written today’s story about the Texas Transportation Institute‘s latest study showing the Bay Area with more time and fuel wasted than anyplace in the U.S. except the seething autopolis down south.

One thing that often comes up in discussions about how to deal with the problem is telecommuting.

It’s like riding a bicycle to work. It would be really helpful if a significant number of people did it, but they don’t anywhere except where people can’t afford cars, trucks and SUVs.

Well, telecommuting isn’t exactly like that. It doesn’t make you Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Environment, telecommuting | 1 Comment »

the real change on the Bay Bridge


Throughout last weekend and the week before, I was constantly shaking off attempts to write anything about FasTrak changes on the Bay Bridge.

Why? Because it’s boring. Moving a 6,700-ton slab of earthquake-stressed concrete two stories in the air is a lot more compelling. At any other time, I would have been all over the FasTrak story.

It’s not just that I had better things to do. It’s that it’s difficult to look at that map and say what’s so different about it. They’ve moved some lanes around, they’ve added one and they’ve made the approach lanes longer by 2,000 feet.

The latter change I think most regulars will agree is a big improvement. I’m a Carquinez user myself, and I was positively bubbling Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2007
Under: 511, art, Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, driving, Freeways, Funding, maps, tolls | No Comments »

Caltrans’ finest two hours


What a difference a weekend makes. Who said Caltrans was risk-averse? They daren’t say it to Will Kempton’s face tomorrow at 5 p.m., or maybe 4 p.m., to quote contractor C.C. Myers, the “patron saint of Bay Area Commuters.”

After being on my feet for 10 hours watching and listening to the demolition of the Yerba Buena Island Viaduct and having to file an unsatisfying story saying that job had gotten slightly bogged down, I had to stay for a few more hours to see if something else was going to happen.

It really wansn’t as spontaneous as all that, to be honest. I had my sleeping bag and pillow in the back of the family Toyota, and was looking for a chance to hop a Caltrans shuttle across the closed and severed Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, September 3rd, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans | 1 Comment »