The next time I hear the words, “Bay Bridge,” on the radio, I’m going to run over an orange cone in a construction zone on the freeway. Bad enough that the bolt fastener problem got talked about endlessly for months on “The Ronn Owens Show” during the morning commute and the news roundup during the evening commute. A week-long drumbeat to the closure of the Bay Bridge over Labor Day weekend was especially aggravating. But was it really necessary for KGO Radio to host their news desk on Yerba Buena Island—where the eastern and western spans meet—for the week following the bridge reopening on Labor Day?
I’m not sure if I will ever drive over the new eastern span anytime soon. Since I live and work in the south bay, I rarely have to cross the bay. The last time was a few years ago when I did a temp job in San Mateo and drove over the San Mateo Bridge to visit my father in a Sacramento, taking the 580 out to the I-5 in the central valley to avoid paying the bridge toll at the Benicia Bridge on the 680 in the north bay.
The last time I was on the Bay Bridge was the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. I was working with my father in construction at the time. We visited a job site in Walnut Creek, crossed the Bay Bridge after lunch to visit a job site in San Francisco, and came home in time for the earthquake. We saw on TV the collapsed section of the Bay Bridge that we drove over hours before, which started the 24 year ordeal to replace the eastern span. The job isn’t done yet: still got bike lanes to add to the western span and the dismantling of the old eastern span over the next few years.
Now talk on the Bay Bridge has shifted to arguing over renaming the western span to the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Bridge. Tim Montemayor of “The Monty Show” screamed over the radio on Saturday that the state legislators gave in to being “blackmailed” by the NAACP, which is pushing to rename the bridge after the former mayor of San Francisco. That’s a bit of stretch even for conspiracy nuts. If you’re naming the bridge after Willie Brown on the western span, name the eastern span after Governor Jerry Brown and call it the Slick Willie/Moonbeam Jerry Bay Bridge.
Let’s shut up about the Bay Bridge and talk about something else for a change. The BART contract negotiations will rear its ugly head when the 60-day cooling off period imposed by the governor expires in October. The union is threatening to have the longest strike since the 1970’s if they don’t get a 23 percent pay increase, and BART management is threatening to run the trains during a strike. Although all the screaming and hollering might get tiresome, no one will be talking about the Bay Bridge outside of the traffic reports.