Some Bay Area drivers aren't sure what to expect with the new Bay Bridge and have safety concerns. Jean Elle reports.
The five-day closure of the Bay Bridge is a week away, and Caltrans is urging drivers to plan ahead.
The California Highway Patrol said every available officer will be out on the roads during the closure.
Caltrans posted an animation of what drivers will see once the new bridge opens on the day after Labor Day. (Click here to view the animation)
Caltrans spokesperson Andrew Gordon said it will be a completely different experience compared to the existing bridge.
"It's going to feel much more open especially for drivers heading east out of the tunnel will be out in the open right away," he said.
When the traffic pattern changed on the Bay Bridge in 2009 there were accidents, including a fatality. Caltrans said the "S" curve was surprising for drivers, but added new span is easier to navigate with gentle curves.
Some Bay Area drivers, who aren't sure what to expect, are hoping for a smooth transition.
Saba Maher said she is leaning toward using public transportation during first few days of the bridge opening.
"Just because it might be hectic, a little scary, people won't know what to expect," Maher said. "I might take BART for the first few days."
As for traffic during the Bay Bridge closure?
Sam Morgan with California Highway Patrol asked drivers to obey all traffic laws. He said you will see CHP patrol cars with lights on doing roving traffic breaks throughout the weekend. Morgan recommends patience.
If you are planning a trip between East Bay and San Francisco Labor Day weekend, you will need to choose an alternate route now, and you should allow plenty of extra travel time, transportation officials said.
The bridge is scheduled to be closed from 8 p.m., August 28, until 5 a.m., September 3, while workers take the bridge’s original span out of service and open the new bridge to the Eastern span traffic.
Next week's closure is not the first. Caltrans said earlier closures happened without significant traffic backups during Labor Day weekends in 2006, 2007, and 2009.
Anyone interested in more details about the closure should visit baybridgeinfo.org, or call 511 for traffic updates or visit 511.org to find out which other Bay Area bridges are available as detour routes.
ANIMATION: Driver's View of New Bay Bridge