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Bay Bridge Ribbon Cutting Will Involve Relatively Little Fanfare

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — There will be no public celebration with tens of thousands of pedestrians and fireworks when the ribbon is cut on the new, $6.4 billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Monday. Instead, after years of delays and cost overruns, the inauguration of the one of the state’s most expensive public works projects will be marked with a relatively low-key event that may not even include the governor.

“People are tired, but everyone’s very excited,” bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon said on Monday morning. “It’s kind of this last lap so to speak, the last leg of this marathon. We are all looking forward to getting to the finish line.”

The invitation-only inauguration is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., with a formal chain cutting ceremony 90 minutes later. About 20 cars, ranging from vintage models to modern electric vehicles, are then expected to take a spin across the span.

Government officials, labor leaders, survivors of the 1989 earthquake that collapsed two 50-foot sections of the old eastern span and people who were alive when the Bay Bridge first opened in 1936 are expected to attend. Gov. Jerry Brown, who was closely involved in planning the bridge when he was mayor of Oakland, is expected to skip the ceremony to be with his wife at a family gathering in Michigan.

The new span and the rest of the bridge will not immediately be opened to traffic. It closed on Wednesday night so crews could do final work, and they were still striping, putting up signs and putting down roadway markers on Monday, Gordon said. Some barrier railing also needed to be put up.

The bridge is scheduled to open to traffic by 5 a.m. on Tuesday, though it could open earlier. Gordon said a decision will be made on Monday afternoon and could be announced at the ceremony.

The new section of bridge, designed to make the span safe during earthquakes, has been under construction for almost a decade and follows years of political bickering, engineering challenges and cost overruns. It replaced a structure that was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

In March, more than two dozen rods used to anchor the roadway to important earthquake safety structures cracked after they were tightened. The discovery threatened to delay the bridge’s opening by months.

The bridge will open with a temporary fix for the broken rods while the permanent repair, expected to be completed in December, is being installed.

Transportation officials approved the temporary fix last month and voted to open the bridge as originally planned around the Labor Day weekend.

But Gordon said on Monday that there was not enough time for a public celebration.

Plans for such a celebration originally called for a bridge walk with more than 100,000 people, fireworks, a half marathon and a concert.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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