New Bay Bridge opens in California (VIDEO)


A California Highway Patrol officer looks on as a procession of cars crosses the new eastern span of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge following a chain-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the bridge on September 2, 2013 in San Francisco, California. After nearly 12 years of construction and an estimated price tag of $6.4 billion, the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge will open to traffic a day ahead of schedule. The bridge will be the world's tallest Self-Anchored Suspension (SAS) tower once completed.


Justin Sullivan

The newly built eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened to vehicle traffic and limited fanfare Monday, marking the end of an infrastructure project that took over a decade to complete. 

Costing $6.4 billion by the time of completion, the new Bay Bridge is now the world's largest self-anchored suspension span, and arguably more aesthetically pleasing than the circa-1936 expanse it replaces.

It took 11 years to build the new bridge, NBC Bay Area reported, and it was originally projected to have a pricetag of only $1 billion. 

"Bridges are monuments to progress, and as I stand here between Mayor Ed Lee and Mayor Jean Quan I hope this is more than just connecting two land masses," Mayor Gavin Newsom said during the relatively modest inauguration ceremony, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

"I hope that the progress that's being represented at this moment is for a generation to dream big dreams and do big things."

"I didn't have many expectations," Oakland writer Surj Gish told the San Francisco Chronicle after he traversed the new bridge expanse to its stopping point at Treasure Island. "But when you come around that curve and go under the wires, it's cathedral-like. It was pretty breathtaking."

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Some drivers across the new bridge were cautioned for taking photos or texting while driving, while another person was reportedly cited for illegally driving and taking pictures on a now-closed section of the old bridge. 

"While everybody is excited about the new bridge, please remember it is still a roadway designed to get you from Point A to Point B," warned California Highway Patrol Officer Sam Morgan, according to the Associated Press. 

There will even be a troll under the new Bay Bridge, a matter of some importance to Bay Area residents with a soft-spot for the cast-iron troll an artist placed under the old bridge after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Capitol Public Radio said. The old troll will go into a bridge museum, while the new one will be placed at an undisclosed location. 

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