Q Some portions of the old Bay Bridge are very close to the new bridge, especially the east end of the S-curve, where it attaches to the high cantilever section of the old span. If the "big one" were to hit before that section of the old bridge is taken down, is there any chance that it could fall and hit the new bridge, damaging it?
A Yes, there is some risk. This is why the S-curve section will be the first to be demolished. It will take three years to remove the entire east span.
Q Our family took a drive Tuesday night to see the new Bay Bridge, and it is a beautiful structure. But this was well after commute hours and in the reverse commute direction. Traffic was miserable. What should have taken us 25 to 30 minutes to reach the bridge took more than an hour. Do they call this progress?
A Be patient. Thousands joined you to view the new span, and that increase in traffic, some road changes at the toll plaza and gawking are to blame. There's a new FasTrak lane for drivers coming in from northbound Interstate 880 and West Grand Avenue, which reduced the number of lanes for those paying cash tolls.
FasTrak drivers who approach the toll plaza from I-880 or West Grand will be detoured to exit and use the two bus-only lanes at the far right side.
I strongly urge you to get FasTrak, even if you're just an occasional bridge user. We had our transponder and took West Grand onto the bridge at 8 a.m. Tuesday and had a wait of just a few seconds.
Q It's said that a 1½-mile walk is required to reach the bicycle-pedestrian walkway from the east on the new bridge. That's a three-mile round trip without walking at all on the new bridge and more walking than many people can handle, such as the handicapped or elderly. After the old bridge is removed, are there plans to construct a parking area near the east touchdown?
A Yes. Eventually a park known as Gateway Park will be developed at the east end of the bridge. Parking will be allowed about one-quarter of a mile from the bridge path.
Q Thank you for a good story on crossing the new Bay Bridge. The part that made me laugh was about the pedestrian bench that "has been placed so people can sit and smell the odor" of the nearby sewage treatment plant.
This amused me because when I was little it was always very smelly crossing that part of the bridge. My sisters and I made a big issue of having to hold our breath for a ways. In fact, when I was very small, I thought "bay" was a word that meant "bad-smelling body of water where sewage was treated."
A Funny, indeed.
Q Ha, I drove the Bay Bridge top down in a De Soto convertible, hair blowing in the wind many years ago when you, Gary, were about 3 years old. I no longer have the De Soto but at least still have the hair.
A One smart-alecky co-worker said he liked the story about Mrs. Roadshow and me driving a Mustang convertible on the new bridge with the wind blowing through my hair, except he said it should have read "blowing through my thinning hair."
Q Why during the Bay Bridge makeover did they not yank out all the toll booths and go with all-electronic tolls like on the Golden Gate Bridge? When might this happen?
A Maybe in five years or so. Officials say it's possible a couple of bridges could go all-electronic in about a year, with others phased in later. They want to wait a year to evaluate how the system has worked on the Golden Gate Bridge, and will most likely test it next on the Dumbarton. The Bay Bridge would probably be the last one converted to electronic-only tolls, in about five years.
Q Except for the lack of sleep, I'd say you had a perfect Roadshow birthday! Crossing the new Bay Bridge in a Mustang convertible -- what could be better than that? Mrs. Roadshow looks as cute as ever. Hope your Mercury News pal Karl Mondon got a kick out of the ride, too. He captured the wind in your hair perfectly. Thanks for taking us along for the ride.