OAKLAND -- There's not much point in holding a party without the guest of honor, so the $5.6 million celebration planned for the Labor Day opening of the new Bay Bridge has been postponed -- and may not happen at all.

More than 100,000 people were expected to walk, run and ride bikes across the new east span after it was set to be ratcheted in place during the long weekend stretching from late August into early September. Gov. Jerry Brown, in a live televised event on KPIX-TV following this year's Super Bowl, started a countdown clock to the party, which was to include a fireworks show and dedication ceremony.

But officials overseeing the bridge construction announced Monday they needed extra time to complete its fix for the busted rods discovered earlier this year. The extra safety work is not expected to be finished until Dec. 10, though the exact opening date is not known, leaving the fate of the free celebration in limbo as well.

"It's not certain" that there will be any public access to the bridge before it opens, said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Bay Area Toll Authority, which is building the bridge with Caltrans and approved the party in February. "We have not made any sort of decisions. We're going to have some extra time to think about it."


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The toll authority's board was set to meet Wednesday morning in Oakland to discuss the schedule of the bridge and may consider alternative plans for an event for the public.

"Today really isn't the day to be talking about celebrations. When the moment's right, we'll reconvene and figure out what'll happen," said Bobby Winston, president of the Bay Bridge Alliance Board of Directors, a nonprofit business group charged with organizing and raising money for the bridge bash.

Winston said the group had been on track to raise $2.5 million to $3 million to help offset the public cost of the celebration "before all this terrible stuff started."

"Speaking just for myself, I sure hope there's going to be" a celebration, Winston said. "I still hope the East Bay does have its moment in the sun. It's a big accomplishment, and for all its problems it's an extraordinary bridge and the East Bay should not be punished for this."

Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at twitter.com/RosenbergMerc.