Image: Crews continue work on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
Russel A. Daniels  /  AP
Crews put the final touches on the new detour route of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Seismic Retrofit project in San Francisco on Monday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/8/2009 10:26:05 AM ET 2009-09-08T14:26:05

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge reopened early Tuesday, just in time for the morning commute, after overnight repairs to fix a crack that was discovered on Sunday, officials said.

Randy Iwasaki, director of the California Department of Transportation, said crews worked around the clock to finish the repair work. "The bridge has been inspected, and it's safer than it was when we closed it on Friday," he said.

The 73-year-old bridge, which carries about 260,000 vehicles a day between San Francisco and heavily populated cities to its east, was closed over the Labor Day weekend so a football-field-sized, 3,300-ton section of the eastern span could be cut out and replaced with a new double-deck section. The work was part of a seismic upgrade and had to be completed 150 feet above the ground.

The new section connects the bridge with a short detour that will be used until a new east span is completed by 2013.

Crews used the opportunity to inspect the bridge and found a 2-inch-thick steel link cracked halfway through.

Officials initially feared that the bridge would be closed for the morning commute. But officials announced in an early news conference that the repairs were completed just in time.

"Last night was one of those nights where everything went perfect," said Dan Himick, president of C.C. Myers, the construction company involved in the project.

Avoid rush hour
The bridge shut down Thursday night, and other bridges and public transportation systems were able to accommodate extra riders Friday, the first time that the bridge was closed on a working day since a major earthquake in 1989.

Public transit agencies said they planned to increase capacity to handle the expected increase in riders because of the bridge's closure.

Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesman Jim Allison said the commuter rail line will run longer trains, but warned that finding parking at stations may be difficult.

The transit line, which typically carries about 340,000 commuters a day, could see a record day.

"Most people travel to work between 8 and 9 o'clock. If you can avoid that hour, that's a good idea," Allison said.

The Golden Gate Transportation District said the Golden Gate Ferry will add one morning vessel with a capacity of 715 passengers, to leave Larkspur for San Francisco.

More on: Bay Bridge

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