OAKLAND -- With the visions of traffic carmageddon in the rear view mirror and the bridge free and clear of those pesky cars, crews got to work in earnest Thursday and plan to keep it going over the long holiday weekend.

The sounds of nonstop traffic was replaced by the deafening sounds of dump and demolition trucks that are ripping up and repaving asphalt to align the new eastern span with the toll plaza in Oakland and at Yerba Buena Island, where it will connect with the western span.

By Thursday afternoon the crews had installed the polyester overlay on the upper deck, and started the overlay on the lower deck. They were 65 percent done demolishing old the old eastbound deck to make room for new lanes and bike path.

"We are on schedule and there is nothing to indicate we will miss the 5 a.m. Tuesday opening," said Bay Bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon.

The five-day bridge shutdown began at 8 p.m. Wednesday and is scheduled to end at 5 a.m. Tuesday, with the possibility of a Monday opening if work is finished early. On Wednesday, motorists crossed the existing eastern span, which opened in 1936, for the final time. Many posted nostalgic messages to social media, along with pictures of their final trip.

During the five-day closure about 3,000 truckloads of ripped-up asphalt will be carted off the bridge as 2,000 truckloads of new asphalt will be brought in and used to repave sections of the bridge. In all, 84,000 tons of asphalt will be trucked out, and 56,000 tons of asphalt trucked in.

Thursday was also a time for bridge engineers to take reporters out for a walk on the old eastern span and talk about how they plan to dismantle the cantilevered structure covered in layers and layers of lead paint.

A few of those engineers even got a little misty-eyed.

"When you get out here and you look at what the engineers of the 1930s did with slide rules, paper and pencils, you realize this bridge was a true marvel," said Caltrans engineer Mike Whiteside, who has worked on the new Bay Bridge project for the past 16 years. "It's hard to think that it will gone in a few years."

Preparation for the $240 million deconstruction began months ago as engineers and contractors contemplated how to take down a bridge built with fatigued World War I-era steel without killing anyone or dropping the lead-painted pieces into the bay, and do it before the Big One hits.

The 50 million pound steel cantilevered section near Yerba Buena Island, in particular, is very close to the new span and it blocks completion of the new bike and pedestrian path.

The old steel truss bridge is like a cocked bow and arrow, explained Caltrans bridge engineer Brian Maroney. Its pieces push and pull on each other at strategic points. Sever the wrong beam, and it could trigger a catastrophic failure that could kill people and pollute the bay.

As a result, the bridge must be dismantled in the precise opposite order in which it was erected, said bridge consulting engineer Sajid Abbas with TY Lin International.

"Get it wrong and there could be cascading failures," Abbas said.

What wasn't a failure was Thursday's commute without a Bay Bridge to cross. Whether by sea, by train or by car, Bay Area commuters had little yet to complain about on the first morning of the five-day closure.

Morning commute traffic was sluggish in some areas, but officials said there were no delays that could be directly tied to the closure.

BART reported an increase in ridership, but commuters in Walnut Creek, San Francisco and Oakland said it was difficult to tell if trains were more crammed than usual. And at the ferry terminal in Oakland's Jack London Square, riders said the lines looked a little longer, but not nearly as long as during this summer's BART strike.

"It's not that bad," said Monroe Hatch, 52, who was behind about two dozen people waiting for a boat to arrive. His commute from Walnut Creek to the ferry terminal? "Piece of cake on Highway 24 -- it was empty."

Through 10 a.m. Thursday, BART reported having 30,682 more riders than during that same time frame a year ago. There were 154,314 riders total between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m.

BART officials reported that trains were running on time, though some riders, such as Oakland's Craig McKey reported minor delays on his trip from the East Bay to San Francisco.

"That line usually always has timing issues so I don't know if the rider increase was to blame," McKey said. "Everyone seemed to make sure to make room for fellow passengers boarding when they could."

Concord's Mike Tiktinsky usually takes the 5:12 train from the Concord BART station to his job in downtown San Francisco. On Thursday morning he was on the 6:45.

"This isn't my normal time," he said, surveying the crowd on the platform, "but this is a lot (of people). It's more than I'd see at 5:12."

For daily BART rider Todd Clark, it felt "like just another day." He added, "I think they picked the right time to do it," he said of the Bay Bridge closure.

On the highways, traffic slowed on northbound Interstate 880, westbound Interstate 80 and the San Mateo Bridge, where minor accidents occurred earlier in the morning, according to the CHP. But CHP Officer Sam Morgan said nothing was unusual about the traffic.

"Sometimes there's a little more drama injected than reality," Morgan said of predictions before the bridge closure.

Daniel McMenamin, who commutes from his home in Berkeley across the San Mateo Bridge, said it took him an extra 30 minutes to get to work, and said "on the bridge, it was horrendous going through the merge." Some took an illegal shortcut, he said.

"The state could have made a fortune if they had gotten the carpool violators," he said of drivers on I-880 and Highway 92.

CHP officials said it appeared motorists prepared for the closure by staying home, taking public transit or carpooling. The car-sharing program Carma, formerly Avego, that saw its numbers spike during the BART strike, has seen an increase in use. Paul Steinberg, Director of Americas for Carma, said downloads for the car share's app increased about 200 percent and trips are up 54 percent.

"Obviously it's not as large as our BART strike numbers, but it's a signal folks are looking for alternatives to driving alone and we expect a decent increase in usage," Steinberg said.

Traffic on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was more sluggish than usual and Golden Gate Ferry service out of Larkspur saw 400 more passengers than usual.

"The parking lot got very crowded and people had to circle," said Jim Swindler, head of Golden Gate's ferry division.

East Sir Francis Drake Boulevard near the terminal, which takes Richmond-San Rafael Bridge traffic to southbound Highway 101, was expected to be hit hard, but traffic was no worse than usual. Traffic across the Golden Gate Bridge also flowed at the speed limit.

Throughout the bridge closure, with the exception of early Tuesday, BART will run trains 24 hours a day. During normal off hours, between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., trains will stop at certain stations between Concord and SFO Airport and Del Norte Station in El Cerrito and Dublin/Pleasanton. All trains will meet at transfer station MacArthur BART in North Oakland.

Staff writers Natalie Alund and Mark Prado contributed to this report. David DeBolt covers breaking news. Contact him in Richmond at 510-262-2728. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.