March Views from the Carpool


TUESDAY, MARCH 8
It’s a gray morning with a dramatic, moody sky full of clouds and glimmers of the sunrise. I’m comfortable in the back seat of a Honda CRV (an unusually roomy and comfy SUV). The driver is a mellow relaxed fellow in his 30s. Long light brown pony tail, a short bristly beard, wearing jeans. The front seat passenger is a 60s something lady who settles into a book. Traffic’s heavy but we’re all trudging along at about 50 mph. “I’ve been driving the casual carpool for about 3 years and it’s great”, he says. He started carpooling “the last time gas was $5 a gallon”. (Looks like we’re about to go there again.)

Nearing Berkeley I see the tide is way out with lots of muddy shore and a variety of gulls and small water birds plodding about in the mud. We zoom past the gridlocked toll plaza and join very congested bay bridge traffic. Wow – the new bridge is shaping up and that tower is beginning to loom!

In a couple of months, around Memorial Day, all drivers on the bridge are going to shift lanes when the Caltrans bridge crew nudges the eastbound traffic lanes over (that’s traffic headed towards Oakland, away from SF) to make room for more construction. The lanes will change where the bridge ends, or what Caltrans called the ‘Oakland Touchdown’. This is the area where eastbound drivers emerge from the darkness of the lower deck into daylight; the change should be a minor one – nothing like the S-curve going into the city that was implemented in the fall of 2009.

You can check it out in greater detail at http://www.baybridgeinfo.org. The new span, all $6.3 BILLION of it, is scheduled to open in both directions in 2013.