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The San Francisco Bay Bridge Gets a New Look

The San Francisco Bay Bridge Gets a New Look

In 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake shook the Bay Area at a 6.9 magnitude, breaking a segment of the East Bay Span of the Bay Bridge. Further analysis revealed extensive damage along the 75-year old bridge, and a recommendation was made to build a new East Bay Span. However, East Bay residents didn’t want just

In 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake shook the Bay Area at a 6.9 magnitude, breaking a segment of the East Bay Span of the Bay Bridge. Further analysis revealed extensive damage along the 75-year old bridge, and a recommendation was made to build a new East Bay Span.

However, East Bay residents didn’t want just another utilitarian highway. They expected that the new East Bay Span would be seismically sound while providing a new “signature landmark” that the entire East Bay could take pride in.

Now, after 14 years of planning, designing, and construction, the East Bay Span is set to open on September 2, 2013 (Labor Day). With a $6.4 billion price tag, it is the most expensive public works project in California’s history. But is it worth the cost?

Bay Bridge East Span - Old & New

Architect Marwan Nader of T.Y. Lin International designed the bridge with East Bay residents’ expectations in mind. A single, sleek tower criss-crossed by one continuous cable provides seismic stability and a postcard, tourist-worthy bridge aesthetic.  The tower, a feat of engineering in itself, is anchored 3 times deeper than the current footing of the old East Bay Span and can withstand an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude (and greater). Aesthetically, the one tower on the East Bay Span echoes the four towers of the western span of the Bay Bridge.

East Bay Span - Artist's Rendering

Though many contend that the Golden Gate Bridge is still San Francisco’s best, the East Bay Span has already been viewed as East Bay’s desired “signature.” Want proof? The Golden State Warriors, a National Basketball Association team, incorporated the tower in their logo in 2010.

Warrior's Logo

What are your favorite “signature landmarks” for the area in which you live? What do you think makes a successful “signature landmark?”

Credits: Images courtesy of Tom Paiva, T.Y. Lin International, and SportsLogos.Net. Data linked to sources.

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Steven Chang was a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and held a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. His interest in urban planning began in his hometown of Rowland Heights, California (near Los Angeles), when he...

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