Temporary portion of the eastern span of the bike path being installed. Photo credit by Lindsay Baker.

SAN FRANCISCO—The new eastern expansion of the Bay Bridge, which has been under construction opened  on Tuesday, September 3.

John Goodwin, spokesman for the Bay Area Toll Authority, said while the bridge will be open for traffic Tuesday morning, the official test will be Monday, September 2, during the invitation-only inauguration ceremony of the Bridge.

Andrew Gordon, Bay Bridge spokesman, said the work is wrapping up as expected and the bridge should open on time.

“Everyone wants the bridge to open as quickly as possible,” he said. “At this time we know the bridge will open at 5 a.m. on Tuesday.”

As of August 31, Caltrans reported all work was on track and there were no issues. They were working on three main projects including the addition of a bicycle and pedestrian path to be opened Tuesday by noon, paving and striping the road, cleaning the island tunnel and replacing old lights with LED lights.

The bike path on the eastern span is something for bikers to look forward to, Gordon said.

“This is a continuation of the Bay Trail which extends down the shorelines of Emeryville and Berkeley and Oakland and we really wanted it to tie into the natural setting of that part of the bike path,” he said.

The remainder of the bike path leading to Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands will not be accessible until 2015 because crews still need to do some demolition work.

Another project including making changes for Fastrak users by allowing Fastrak users and those paying cash to get into different lanes earlier than before, as well as the addition of another Fastrak lane on the bridge between 880 or West Grand Avenue.

“We’ve removed the toll booth that was previously here so you get a little bit of open road tolling,” Goodwin said. “No more need to slow down to 25 mph as you pass through the toll plaza, you can continue at highway speed.”

Gordon said they are just as hopeful as anyone else that the bridge could open earlier, but the public should not plan their commute based on that.

“If there is the opportunity to open the bridge early we will certainly take advantage of that, but again we are not at the point to make that call yet,” he said.

Some of the scheduled speakers for the opening ceremony included: Metropolitan Transportation Commission chairwoman and Orinda Mayor Amy Worth, Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

Juan Felipe Herrera, California’s poet laureate, read his “Bay Bridge Inauguration Poem: For all the bridge dreamers, bridge builders and bridge crossers.” The Pacific Boys Choir of Oakland sang the national anthem while the Oakland Military Institute’s color guard presented the colors.

With Governor Brown out of state, Lt. Governor Newsom was there in his absence to cut the chain.

Robbie Hunter, president of state Building and Construction Trades Council of California, said christening the bridge on Labor Day was the perfect choice.

“We will be standing in the shadow of two of the most historic bridges in the nation, the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, both built almost 80 years ago,” Hunter said. “We will also be standing with the workers who built those bridges and recognizing the people from all the trades who worked in all kinds of weather conditions day after day.”

By Melissa Simon