Facebook Twitter

New design for Bay Bridge is ugly, mayors say

SHARE New design for Bay Bridge is ugly, mayors say

The nation's busiest toll bridge is about to get a new look, though voters may have the final say on a design criticized as ugly by several mayors and mayor-elect Jerry Brown.

Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris said the design - which affects the eastern portion of the two-mile-long Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge - resembles a "freeway on stilts." He declared it an unsuitable gateway to his city.Still, an 11-1 vote Wednesday by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission gave the go-ahead to replace the earthquake-damaged eastern span. Work is expected to begin in 2000 on the $1.5 billion project, which features a long causeway with a single suspension tower. It should be finished in 2004.

Harris, who also serves on the transportation commission, cast the lone dissenting vote. He said there were still issues surrounding the design that needed to be resolved. Six other mayors don't like it either.

"We want excellence, not average," Brown said.

Supporters lauded the design as more practical and safer than the alternatives for the earthquake-damaged span.

"The most important thing here is seismic safety, which after all is the purpose of the project," said Robert McCleary, executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.

The Bay Bridge accommodates 280,000 cars, trucks and buses each day, more than twice the volume on the Golden Gate Bridge.

To critics, the final design - the result of nearly two years of discussions that cost taxpayers $15 million - squanders an opportunity to put the Bay Bridge on equal footing with the Golden Gate, its more photogenic cousin.