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Bay Bridge construction on schedule

Jason Dearen, Associated Press

The eastern section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is seen in San Francisco, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. Crowded roadways and packed buses, trains and ferries are on tap for commuters starting Wednesday night, Aug. 28, 2013 when officials shut down the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to traffic in preparation for a new $6.4 billion span opening late Monday, Sept. 2 or early Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- More than a day after the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was shut down, work on the new eastern stretch was on pace to be completed as planned early next week and commuters found alternate routes between the two cities.

Traffic was sluggish during rush hours on Thursday but officials reported no major problems or traffic disruptions.

Bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon said crews were doing minor demolition, grinding and paving. The new crossing also needs to be connected to the ground on the Oakland side at the toll plaza and on the west side at Yerba Buena Island tunnel. Workers were 65 percent done demolishing the old eastbound deck to make room for new lanes and a bike path, according to the Oakland Tribune.

"We are on schedule and there is nothing to indicate we will miss the 5 a.m. Tuesday opening," Gordon said.

The bridge closed on Wednesday night.

The reopening will come nearly 24 years after the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the existing eastern span, setting off a public works project marked by numerous delays, political fights over its design and complex engineering hurdles.

Fears of snarled commutes never materialized, though alternate routes into San Francisco and Bay Area Rapid Transit trains were more crowded.

BART experienced its 10th busiest day ever, with an increase of nearly 62,000 people on trains through 7 p.m. compared with the same time last year.

The closure of the bridge was expected to have region-wide effects on traffic throughout the weekend. The Bay Bridge is a workhorse crossing, with about 280,000 vehicles using it each day. This weekend's closure is the fourth time in seven years that officials have shut down the bridge over a Labor Day weekend, when traffic is significantly lighter.

The official opening ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday, but it was unclear who would be there to cut the chain.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who was closely involved in planning the bridge when he was mayor of Oakland, decided to skip the ceremony to be with his wife at a family gathering in Michigan.


Associated Press writers Terry Collins and Sudhin Thanawala contributed to this report.