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And You Thought The S-Curve Was Scary?

January 2, 2010

Eric Fischer brings us terrifyingly awesome scans of a 1949 plan to widen the Bay Bridge.

You certainly would get a good view of the Bay while driving along those extensions. As you were PLUMMETING TO A WATERY DEMISE.

I don’t even want to think about how any extensions to the cantilever section would have held up in 1989.

(On the other hand I’d really like that convertible in the middle picture. Some great detail on the cars if you click to zoom in.)

Eric also has scans of plans for a Southern Crossing Bay Bridge, between Islais Creek and Alameda in Oakland.

(Hey BART, you listening? That sure would be a nice extension from a 30th St-Mission station.)

14 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2010 12:44 pm

    Was the Bridge even 20 years old in 1949? Sheesh.

    I don’t know if those extensions would have relieved traffic. I think more people would have taken the Bridge just to drive on them.

  2. January 2, 2010 12:58 pm

    Yeah, I imagine you’d have a bunch of folks driving about 15 miles an hour while they gawked. Maybe they could have charged double the toll for those lanes.

  3. January 2, 2010 1:47 pm

    They did worry in the report that there would be induced demand as a result of the expansion, although they they thought it would be because of reduced congestion instead of because of increased scenicness.

    As far as 15mph goes, their worry was that many trucks at the time were not capable of going any faster than that on 3% grades, so it would be a mess to have trucks and buses have to share lanes instead of having dedicated lanes for train service, and almost impossible to persuade anyone in a car to use the lower deck voluntarily.

    About falling off the edge — the original proposal to widen the bridge had 21′ extensions, and the report said that they really ought to be at least 24′ instead.

    About earthquakes: “On the whole, though earthquake stresses in the stiff East Bay structure can be kept within design stress limits by construction as described above, this part of the bridge will be less adequate to resist earthquake than at present. This is not desirable, particularly from an insurance standpoint. The only alternative is to use open steel grid throughout the East Bay [span] for the lower deck and on some of the cantilevered wings of the upper deck. From a traffic viewpoint this is undesirable and would be much less satisfactory than the existing pavements now provided.”

  4. Ramón permalink
    January 3, 2010 11:53 am

    The convertible in the drawing is of a Kaiser.

  5. January 3, 2010 12:53 pm

    Cool — thanks Ramón.

  6. Joel permalink
    January 4, 2010 11:43 am

    Going thorugh Alameda, specifically through the former Naval yards would definitely be a smart path to take for a second transbay tube. Jack London Square, Alameda, 30th & Mission in one swoop.

  7. January 5, 2010 12:12 am

    Wow, no comments on the SeaDrome (TM)? Not sure exactly how that’d work, but it sounds awesome now that I’ve souped up the name

  8. January 5, 2010 12:29 am

    The only downside I see is you can only fly to other SeaDromes. But given I really only fly up and down the west coast these days, not a huge restriction.

    But the real question is do we get these back?

  9. January 6, 2010 1:50 pm

    Alameda isn’t IN Oakland…

  10. Mike permalink
    January 6, 2010 5:29 pm

    On the 30th St. BART note –

    Does anyone know of any updates (e.g. is there a live process, or have things stalled since the 2003 design docs)?

    – Mike

  11. January 6, 2010 6:45 pm

    All I know is $500 million doesn’t sound like a lot of money any more.

    Of course (putting on my transit fantasy hat), in addition 30th and a second bay tube I’d love to see a crosstown BART tunnel…

    – connecting 30th, Noe, Castro, Cole Valley/Haight, UCSF
    – then running down Divis or Fillmore (w/ a big station at Geary)
    – then coming back downtown via Broadway or Lombard or California

    From 30th, the line should shoot over to meet a revived Hunter’s Point/Candlestick (how this city has a major sports stadium with no rail transit is simply beyond me), and then down to SFO.

    Gavin, go buy a tunnelling machine for the city please. What’s a few billion Obamadollars amongst friends?

  12. Brian Stokle permalink
    January 14, 2010 4:01 pm


    I fully support a second Transbay Tube, but your alignment seems a bit circuitous. Are you proposing a main line from Castro to Bayview with splinter lines to Divis/Geary and Cole Valley/UCSF? I’m a bit confused by this alignment since I don’t know how to get from UCSF to Geary via Divis/Fillmore IF you’re coming from 30th Mission and Noe.

    The 30th St Mission/Bayview alignment is intriguing. Would you consider having it cross the Bay? Either way, if we built such a major line, it would have to have one or two MAJOR job centers along it, as well as dense residential neighborhoods. The residential isn’t much of a problem in SF. Alameda is incredibly un-dense, and the only true major job centers are Downtown SF and Oakland.

  13. Oakland Bob permalink
    June 6, 2011 4:43 pm

    Interesting that by 1949, traffic engineers were already looking to get rid of the bridge railway though it had been open only 10 years by then (the railway didn’t open until January ’39, over two years after opening for auto traffic.)
    Original bridge configuration was 3 lanes each way on the upper deck for autos. Really nasty head-on collisions were not infrequent. Lower deck had two tracks on the southerly side, separated from traffic lanes by a steel barrier. Lower deck traffic lanes were one each way for trucks and busses, with a ‘suicide’ passing lane shared between them!
    The bridge railway pioneered new technology in train control for the era. The three privately owned services that operated over it in the early years deeded some of their rolling stock to the state, as the state built the railway. Southern Pacific “Interurban Electric” east bay suburban trains and Sacramento Northern interurban trains were both gone by the summer of ’41, leaving Key System the sole remaining operator. They continued operation over the bridge and into the then named “East Bay Terminal” at 1st & Mission via the elevated loops which have only recently been turned down. The last train left downtown Oakland for the city in the wee hours of April 20, 1958. After only 19 years of service and built to last a lifetime, the bridge railway was done.


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