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  • Jeff Chiu / The Associated Press

    CHP cars block the tunnel on the old eastern section of the Bay Bridge, which was closed Wednesday night.

  • Eric Risberg / The Associated Press

    A bicyclist rides past Thursday morning traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Bay Bridge traffic chaos? Not really

Published: Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A

SAN FRANCISCO – Traffic around the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was sluggish Thursday after the span was closed and work progressed on its new eastern stretch set to open early next week.

Officials reported no major problems or traffic disruptions as workers put the finishing touches on the new portion of the bridge.

Bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon said crews were doing minor demolition, grinding and paving.

The new crossing also needs to be connected to the ground on the Oakland side and on the west side at Yerba Buena Island tunnel.

"The key thing here is that construction is going very well. We're on schedule," Gordon said.

The bridge closed Wednesday night, and the new span is expected to reopen Monday night or Tuesday morning.

The reopening will come nearly 24 years after the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the existing eastern span, setting off a public works project marked by numerous delays, political fights over its design and complex engineering hurdles.

Fears of a snarled Thursday morning commute never materialized, though alternate routes into San Francisco and Bay Area Rapid Transit trains were more crowded.

BART experienced its 10th-busiest day ever, with an increase of nearly 31,000 people on trains through 10 a.m. compared with the same time last year.

"We're seeing a lot of new people at BART this morning, and seeing lines back up at the ticket machines," said Jim Allison, a spokesman for the rail service.

Commuters from Silicon Valley experienced some delays unrelated to the bridge closure after a Caltrain engine hit and killed a pedestrian in Palo Alto. The incident stopped northbound trains for nearly an hour.

Some commuters took the current travel disruption in stride. Two regular BART riders heading into San Francisco said they didn't notice any differences from any other workday.

"I don't think it was any worse than usual and that's normal to me," said Bee Dee, 41, of Alameda.

Renee Bush, 52, of Castro Valley said she believes many BART riders started their holiday weekend early. "It wasn't crowded at all. I didn't find a seat, but my train wasn't packed either," Bush said.

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