April 17, 2001
Jeff Weiss, Caltrans (510) 286-5543
S.M. Chase, CHP (415) 557-1094
California Highway Patrol to Step up Patrols
on the Bay Bridge During Caltrans Work
Caltrans and the CHP have began a public information campaign to remind motorists on the Bay Bridge that the speed limit is 50 mph, and that traffic fines are doubled in construction zones where Caltrans is conducting Bay Bridge retrofit projects. Speeding motorists and drivers who make unsafe lane changes on the Bay Bridge can expect to be pulled over and ticketed. In addition, Caltrans will be airing radio spots urging Bay Bridge motorists to "slow for the cone zone."
Caltrans is in the midst of a five-year project to retrofit the western (suspension) span of the Bay Bridge. Whereas earlier portions of the retrofit project were confined to the towers below the traveled roadway, much of the remaining work is concentrated on steel beams and portions of towers adjacent to the roadway, requiring workers to interface with live traffic on a daily basis. As many as 200 construction workers, inspectors, and engineers work on the Bay Bridge daily.
Most weekdays, one lane on the lower deck is shut down from 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. the next day to facilitate the retrofit project. During the evenings, Caltrans often begins closing traffic lanes on the upper deck beginning at 11 p.m., closing as many as three lanes after midnight, as traffic levels permit.
Several recent traffic accidents, although minor, have caused concern. On February 26, 2001, a SUV made an unsafe lane change causing a traffic accident involving two construction vehicles and injuring several workers. Although the injuries were not serious, several other accidents and close calls, as well as general observations that many drivers are not driving with caution, have caused Bay Bridge construction workers much anxiety.
It is important to note workers are not the only ones who will benefit from a more cautious motoring public. Highway statistics show that motorists are as likely to be killed or injured is a construction zone traffic accidents as the workers themselves.