Eight years later and the Bay Bridge is finally up. As the much-neglected stepsibling of the more famous Golden Gate, it's lain dormant for years until it reopened earlier this month, ahead of schedule. It took $6.4 billion and 15 years, but, as Bloomberg pointed out in a brief design and bureaucracy history, "the country's most daringly iconic highway bridge stands as a poster child for those who think major infrastructure projects are wasteful." It goes on to explore a challenge every designer on a team knows well: demanding clients and struggles with funds.
But what does that mean, really? Archinect recently shared a time-lapse video of the Bay Bridge coming to life: 42,000 hours of work in just four minutes. It's an impressive look at the complexities of bridge building, especially a bridge that must be both aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound. (The last Bay Bridge was damaged in the 1986 earthquake.)
I crossed the Bridge recently on a bus, deliberately opting out of the BART just to see life above the water. We entered San Francisco above a layer of fog and the glittering Bay, and my fellow passengers—all three of us—gaped out the window and snapped photos with our phones. I'm new to the city, so I don't know what it was like to wait for the bridge to come together, but the experience itself brought a little sense of wonder back to these jaded city dwellers. SFGate noted that thousands were hitting the pedestrian/cyclist path across the bridge, and many more were driving.
The Bay Bridge, with lots and lots of traffic.
But we were lucky, with a dedicated bus lane from a portion of the ride; countless cars languished behind us, waiting to pay the hefty toll that makes bridge upkeep possible. I couldn't help but think they might have a different opinion on the matter.