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Archive for the 'Freeway collapse' Category

Bay Bridge: How will it do when the Big One hits?

We all remember the scary images of a section of the Bay Bridge upper deck collapsing like a trap door 20 years ago when the Loma Prieta earthquake shook the Bay Area.

Now we can see how the new East Span of the Bay Bridge is expected to perform in a big earthquake. Caltrans has posted a computer animated video on its Web site – – depicting how a major earthquake will affect the new East Span, which is scheduled for completion in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Under: Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, Freeway collapse | No Comments »

when a BART line falls in the forest …

I have to thank David Vartanoff for calling my attention to my neglect of one of the area’s biggest transportation infrastructure disasters since a Mac Arthur Maze ramp went down in flames 13 months ago.

He called my attention to my favorite BART website,, where no fewer than 29 comments had been posted about this little issue.

According to the post by icrew,

Since the fire at South Hayward yard 2 weeks ago, there seems to be a distinct lack of urgency about getting it fixed.

It really comes across as BART just not giving a Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, June 5th, 2008
Under: BART, Freeway collapse | 10 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 »

now that you mention it, there IS a law


Many thanks to the AAA of Northern California for sending me a concise roundup of all the driving-related state laws kicking in in 2008.

First and foremost is the one that has probably led to more confusion than the last 100 California ballot measures. I confess that just prior to July 1 of this year, I thought we were supposed to go hands-free with the mobile phone or face the consequences (Those would be $20 for the first offense, $50 thereafter, which I suspect for many will considered the cost of doing business).

But, as AAA’s Sean Comey notes, that particular law, along with its no-cell-no-text-no-anything-while-driving-under-18 counterpart passed this year, don’t actually kick in until July 1, 2008. So Californians, gab away, but try to practice with the earpiece occasionally so it won’t be such a shock this summer.

If it helps, I recently got to know a Caltrans road crew that lost one of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 27th, 2007
Under: Bicycling, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, fuel, other, Safety, technology, traffic signals, trucks | 2 Comments »


never-get-to-work-sign.jpg I hate making commitments. Never mind that I’ve been married for 19 years and four months, I just don’t like to say yes to something and then find out that something else is more pressing and disappoint someone.

Still, I found myself exiting the Montgomery St. BART/Muni station this afternoon, doing the “talk to the hand” gesture to someone who was trying to hand me a leaflet of some sort. I felt slightly guilty, having once handed out leaflets myself back when I was a starving student.

I had committed to sit on a panel discussing transportation in California. That I would be invited to share my opinion about something I know very little about was sure to be an ego boost, so I jumped at the chance. Accepting the $175 stipend (to cover one’s expenses… BART fare, $5, parking, $6, lost speaking engagement fees, $164… hmm… that works out perfectly) was regrettably Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, August 30th, 2007
Under: BART, Bay Bridge, Bridges, Caltrans, connectivity, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Retrofitting | No Comments »

my 15 minutes

As if all my histrionics over the MacArthur Maze collapse weren’t enough, someone is making a movie about the April 29 gasoline tanker truck mishap.

I know this because they interviewed me today for the movie, and it was so cool.

The short movie, with the working title of “Amazing,” is being done by the same people who brought us the Emmy Award-winning “The Bridge So Far,” which featured my predecessor, Sean Holstege, as one of two journalist talking heads for the comedic documentary.

Sean, alas, has Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
Under: art, Bay Bridge, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, Safety | No Comments »

they saw this in 1957, luckily for us


Behind every successful public service, there was an idea. That idea led to a proposal and that proposal led to a big bureaucracy that, whatever its faults, got the job accomplished.

Such is the case with the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, which was born by an act of the California legislature and governor on June 4, 1957.

BART, the entity, is now 50.

With the help of our librarian, I was able to find Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2007
Under: BART, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Planning, rail, Transit vs. driving | 14 Comments »

end of the maze craze

maze-ironworkers-photo-3-by-thinh-vo.jpgIt was 5:50 p.m. when I got the call from my source, whom I’ll identify only as General “I shall return” MacArthur.

“Unofficially — not for publication — I recommend that you be at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza no later than 7:45.”

With a new sense of urgency, something not engendered by mere deadlines and editors hoping beyond hope to spend time with their families,  I finished my story about how, after a gasoline tanker conflagration April 29 claimed

Photo of Christie Constructors ironworkers by Thinh Vo.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2007
Under: Bay Bridge, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, high-speed rail, Safety, tolls | 1 Comment »

falling for Caltrans

smoke-jumper.jpgPerhaps demonstrating how fast the melted MacArthur Maze — opening tomorrow— got rebuilt, Caltrans director Will Kempton will reach speeds of 125 mph when he jumps out of an Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 24th, 2007
Under: Caltrans, Freeway collapse, Safety | No Comments »

a maze again, but no longer amazing


When the MacArthur Maze opens up again on Friday, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promised, it will be one of those grin-and-grab ribbon-cutting events that political strategists live for.

But as a news story, the Great Maze Disaster has turned into the Medium Traffic Concern.

That says a lot about the response to the gasoline tanker fire that make such great video footage as it worked steel girders holding up the I-580 ramp like a glassblowing demonstration gone wrong.

Traffic mayhem Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, May 21st, 2007
Under: Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Funding, Misc. Transportation, Safety | No Comments »