CalTrans — the mighty California Department of Transportation, home of lighted cones, and hard hats, and workers in reflective vests — promised that the Bay Bridge would be up and running by this morning at 5:00 a.m. That it isn’t ready yet — because they found a crack up there and have to fix it before they let us loose on the bridge — is one of those great moments in steel and glue that, secretly, many people completely love. Me included.
I mean, look — sure, there are 250,000 people who’d like to get their cars across that bridge today so they can go to the airport, or to work, or to visit someone who’s sick. But there are another million or so of us who, like the public informaton officer for CalTrans, are riveted by and can barely contain our excitement at, well, the rivets they’re sticking into all that steel so the whole damned thing doesn’t come falling down into the bay.
Who, exactly, loves this stuff? First, and most obviously, are those who never really grew out of their early devotion to all things construction-related, the people whose very favorite Christmas present was a battery operated crane that they could use to lift pretend girders over the prone body of their father, who’d had a leetle too much to drink at Christmas dinner. For this group, the sight of all that steel being lifted onto the bridge, and the heroic repair effort that’s being undertaken is Christmas Day, only a lot bigger.
The second group are those of us who drive over that bridge — those of us who aren’t engineers, I mean — who really can’t believe the thing works, and stays up, and is so beautiful while it’s at it. I’m in that group.
My feeling is that if they need a little more time for the glue to dry on the crack, well, they should have it. Because I secretly think every time I go over the bridge, “Man, I hope this thing stays up.” And anything they can do to keep it working, well, I’m happy to let them do it.
But wait!!! I just checked the website. They managed to fix it and it’s open!! Yay caltrans.