Sunday, December 01, 2013

White-Knuckling the Bay Bridge

Ok: the Bay Bridge.  I don't really have any reason to go to that part of the country, so I've only driven it a small handful of times (like 3 or 4, max), and when I've driven I was always on the "right" side of the bridge.  This time, though, I used the EZPass lane ... which shunted me right into one of the lanes on the "wrong" side of the bridge.  If you're unfamiliar with the Bay Bridge, it's actually 2 bridges separated by about 30 feet, each with 3 lanes carrying traffic in one direction.  Except that it isn't always 3-3 ... the bridge was designed so that during busy periods, one lane on each bridge could "switch" direction according to the volume need, and move to a 4-2 or 2-4 configuration.

Traffic-flow-wise, I understand this completely: if traffic flow is heavier in one direction during the morning, and then the opposite direction in the evening, then it makes a lot of sense to design your lanes to be able to switch their direction during the day as necessary.  Usually, though, this is accomplished on a single roadway with some movable barriers, where you're still driving with the rest of the people heading in your direction.  Not so on the Bay Bridge.  Here, they just painted a double broken line and put a flashing signal overhead to let you know whether you could drive it or not.

From a traffic-flow perspective: great.  From an actual-human-being-driving perspective: H-O-L-Y-C-R-A-P.  I was white-knuckling it the entire way.  Like I said above, there is no barrier on the bridge, so oncoming traffic is literally barreling right past you at highway speeds; and since the bridges are separated there's just a flimsy steel fence between you and a 50 foot drop down into the bay below.  In other words: 2 feet in either direction lies certain death.  Add into this that it was WINDY that day, so the cars were being tossed around like crazy, plus the fact that GPS was freaking out every couple seconds because it thought I was on the wrong side of the bridge and driving into oncoming traffic (which I kinda was), and you get the picture.  And if you don't get the picture, well then here's another after I calmed down enough to realize that it would be a fantastic blog post:


Seriously, did any of the engineers think this through at all?  I suppose the fact that we didn't have any major catastrophes is kinda proof that they did, but even so.  Not something I'm looking forward to again.

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