Postcard from... San Francisco


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The Independent Online

The Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Oakland, has almost always been thought of as the Golden Gate Bridge’s unlovely older sister.

Hailed as a wonder of engineering when it was first opened to traffic in 1936, it was quickly overshadowed by its iconic Art Deco neighbour, which opened just a year later.

While the Golden Gate remains the more spectacular of the two, it now at least has a little more competition, after the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge was finally completed last September – a pale and interesting self-anchored suspension span, curving east from Yerba Buena island in the middle of the bay to the Oakland shoreline.

Originally due to open in 2007, the new span cost $6.4bn (£3.7bn), making it the costliest public-works project in California’s history.

Today, it is a fascinating spot to get stuck in traffic: as you drive across it, you can see construction workers steadily dismantling the old bridge next door, its two halves split apart and hanging over the water more than 200ft below.

The original, two-mile trestle span – which consists of more than 58,000 tons of steel and 245,000 tons of concrete – is being taken apart in the reverse order of its construction during the Thirties, a process expected to take up to five years.