OAKLAND -- The Bay Bridge bicycle and pedestrian path will be closed for up to a week beginning March 23 as work crews put the finishing touches on a key segment.

Since the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge opened last year, cyclists and pedestrians have been using a temporary roadway that connects the bridge path to the Oakland bike trail that feeds it.

But now that a section of the old bridge and adjoining roadway has been taken down, workers are ready to complete the permanent, much wider connector.

The project, which involves paving, striping and the construction of a plaza, will begin at 8 p.m. March 23. The bike path is officially slated to reopen 6 a.m. March 31. However, Bay Bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon said that weather permitting, it should open sooner.

Trailheads in Oakland and Emeryville will remain open during the construction work. Cyclists will still be able to connect with the Bay Trail but will not be able to access the bridge.

Crews also will be installing a temporary gate about one-third of a mile from the end of the trail on the Bay Bridge. The gate will be closed during the workweek and some Saturdays to make sure that cyclists and pedestrians don't inhale fumes and smoke as workers demolish the old bridge.

By next summer, the gate should be gone and bridge path should lead all the way to Yerba Buena Island. But that connection can't happen until crews remove additional sections of the old bridge, Gordon said.

Meanwhile, Caltrans is extending hours on the bridge path. Beginning Saturday, it will be open until 8 p.m.

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435