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Redesign Approved for SF Bridge

June 25, 1998

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ A new look for the nation’s busiest toll bridge was approved Wednesday despite objections from several local mayors, including one who said the design resembled a ``freeway on stilts.″

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s 11-1 vote gives the go-ahead to a redesigned eastern part of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge, which features a long highway with a single suspension tower. Construction is expected to begin in early 2000 on the $1.5 billion project.

The bridge is currently divided by an island; the western part of the bridge will be strengthened to withstand an earthquake, but not replaced.

Supporters said the design was practical and safe for the eastern section of the bridge, which was damaged in a 1989 earthquake.

``If we had a slight tremor in this room, the top issue would be safety,″ said Alameda County Supervisor Mary King. ``I want our children to remember that we protected the economy, the environment, the panoramic view of the city of Oakland, and most important, their lives.″

But Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, who cast the lone dissenting vote against the design, said it was an unsuitable gateway to his city, and derided it as a ``freeway on stilts.″

Six other mayors added their dissent, as did Oakland Mayor-elect Jerry Brown.

``We want excellence, not average,″ Brown said. ``This is our chance to create an icon, an Eiffel Tower or a Golden Gate, to lead us into the next century.″

The Bay Bridge accommodates 280,000 cars, trucks and buses a day. That’s more than twice as many as the 120,000 vehicles that cross the Golden Gate Bridge daily.

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