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Name:Michael Patrick
Location:San Jose, California, United States

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Saturday, December 11


Bay Bridge Skyway: Effective Spin

There's a certain beauty about freeway junction ramps. There's a similar beauty to the Bay Bridge East Replacement Viaduct Alternative.

Brutal? Austere? No, call the skyway "wide-open grandeur in a setting like no other":

In either direction, the path laid out for the new span should be stirring. Westbound drivers will gradually ascend amid clear air and the soft outlines of the North Bay, then swing to the left and focus in on the tight green drama of Yerba Buena Island. Heading east, the initial impression on leaving the island will be a sense of freedom -- you're no longer on the bottom deck of a dark trussed structure -- and then the sprawling panorama of Berkeley and the East Bay hills, followed by a gentle descent toward Oakland.

And then, after experiencing the view from the bridge, you head up toward Berkeley, look across the water, and realize that the view of the bridge is sadly anticlimactic.

Dec. 14: National Public Radio today did an "All Things Considered" segment on the Bay Bridge. Sunne McPeak, secretary of transportation and other important things, commented, "The Bay Area defines itself by the grand bay, and the skyway provides the vistas for seeing the bay and the Yerba Buena Island and Oakland and San Francisco"--as opposed to the bridges' defining the region and being part of the vista themselves. Put another way, the beauty of the natural environment matters, and the beauty of the built environment does not.

Wrong, I say; the bridges do matter to us in the Bay Area. The Bay Bridge is in a central, perhaps ceremonial location, and it should show more style than just planks on posts. The existing Depression-era truss structure could be beautiful--why can't its replacement?