Sunday, April 29, 2007

Be Prepared

Even if you don't live here you may have heard that a gasoline tanker truck rolled and blew up on the highway at 3:40 this morning, and that the resulting fire was so hot and lasted so long that it caused bolts to melt and the ramp above to collapse. Miraculously, the driver survived with second-degree burns, and no one else was hurt, let alone killed. Whatever happens next to him, clearly his mission on earth is unfinished.

Really amazing video can be seen at YouTube, of course. A good map of the Maze can be seen here. There is a reason why that area is called the MacArthur Maze; those highways are like Pickup Sticks, one laid over the other. The part of the highway that collapsed affects eastbound traffic coming off the Bay Bridge going almost everywhere else in the east bay. I was talking to a friend today and explained that it would be like the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River between Portland and Vancouver collapsing.

Everyone who works in SF is planning to telecommute or working on an alternate route home tomorrow. Zirpu is planning to telecommute, not being willing to brave what will probably be intensely crowded BART trains for a day that doesn't include any meetings. I am still planning to drive to the food bank tomorrow, knowing that the ride home may be much slower than usual - and if it is much much slower, I'll plan to walk from the Lake Merritt BART station to the FB and back (about1.75 miles, some of which is through the Posey Tunnel) the next time I go. I don't expect my commute to the FB to be affected that much, since I get off well before the Maze and travel after the morning rush, but the afternoon will probably be affected as 880 is the only way anywhere until this gets repaired.

We live in an earthquake zone. I think CalTrans, the governator, and the legislators, as well as all the public transpo agencies, should think of this as a small rehearsal. There's been much made of the fact that if a major quake comes from the Hayward Fault (which runs through our neighborhood) it could break chunks of 80, 580, 880, and/or 980 freeways, any of which would affect the trip to or from the Bay Bridge, a major major artery in the miles of highways around here. They can observe and plan what to do, and hope that it doesn't happen.

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