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How Can We Celebrate The Bay Bridge If You Won't Finish The Thing?

All around the Bay, cultural events are on hold, waiting for the Bridge to come online.

 The new expanse of The Bay Bridge under construction.

The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge has become the most expensively anticipated event in the Bay Area. According to the latest statement, it should be opening December 10th—just barely in time to make the cut for Year of the Bay. (That is, of course, if the bridge is deemed safe enough to open.) The delays and uncertainty are making it difficult for the planned celebrations to happen, given the lack of something to celebrate. What, besides commuters, is the Bridge holding up?

The Party: The Bay Bridge Celebration was going to be a party for the people to walk, run, or bike from San Francisco to Oakland before the cars would forever hog all her attention. Possible fireworks and tunes on T.I., the two-day event was going to be grand. Donations and sponsorships were being organized by The Bay Bridge Alliance, with The Bay Area Toll Authority setting aside $5.6 million for security, safety, ticketing, and transportation to and from the bridge. After all, Hartmann Studios—the company who produced the SF Giants World Series victory parade—would be throwing the party. Their spokesperson Stephanie Martin referred us to The Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee's (TBPOC) statement about the construction schedule and couldn’t provide any more information. So, mum's the word at this point.

Gateway Park’s Bike Path: The jumping off point for bikers and pedestrians, the waterfront park will be at the base of the new eastern touchdown in Oakland and will showcase views of the bay and pathways connecting to The Bay Trail. Highlighting the nature and infrastructure of the East Bay, it will also have a museum dedicated to its transportation history. Although the park is still in the design process, with environmental and monetary issues in the works, Peter Lee, the project manager for The Bay Area Toll Authority, said the bike path to connect the bridge to the toll plaza and then over to the Emmeryville IKEA was required to be finished by the bridges opening. A feature required by Caltrans, the bike path will allow for all the inaugural bikers to rush over to IKEA and haul back that much needed dresser.

Photo Exhibit @ San Francisco City Hall: The Bridge Builders by Joseph A. Blum is a photography exhibition featuring more than 85 photographs of the making of the new span of the bridge. Documenting the process since the project's inception in 1998, Blum has spent 25 years as a boilermaker, ship fitter, and welder. His exhibition is a showcase of the human component in the bridge's construction. The show was set to coincide with the Labor Day opening date, running from June 24th through September 27th. However Meg Shiffler, the Galleries Manager, says "although the exhibition was coordinated with the Labor Day opening, it's now serving as a preview. It’s shifted focus from the completion of the project to the labor of the workers". With the exhibition featured at 40 kiosks from Embarcadero to Castro, its a reminder of how much manpower has gone into the new span of the bay bridge. 

Photo Exhibit @ The Oakland Museum of California: Peter Stackpole's exhibition, Bridging the Bay, is a historic black-and-white photography display that chronicles the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and the original Bay Bridge in the 1930's. It is part of the museum's exhibition about the San Francisco Bay that coincides with " The Year of the Bay" theme for 2013. Although the exhibit finishes on January 26th 2014 it will then head over to The De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. Kelly Koski at the Oakland Museum of California, said the delay of the bay bridge hasn't put a dampener on their exhibits. "The bridge is on the top of people's minds, but the exhibits are simply a celebration of The Bay". With all hope, we'll be celebrating "bridging the bay" on the new bridge this December.

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