Archive for October, 2009

Oil spill in bay; save the birds

A ship spilled oil in San Francisco Bay today south of the Bay Bridge, and the Coast Guard is attempting to contain it before it reaches any shorelines to minimize the risk to wildlife. But the Oiled Wildlife Care Network will respond to any reports of sea birds fouled with the oil. Just call them at 1.877.UCD.OWCN. (Thanks, @kmieszkowski)

The incident took place almost two years after the Cosco Busan struck the Bay Bridge on Nov. 7, 2007, releasing over 58,000 gallons of heavy “bunker fuel” and fouling beaches around the bay and up and down the coast from San Mateo County to Sonoma County.

Aw, he’s no fun, he fell right over


Associated Press photo of Gavin Newsom by George Nikitin

Saying his “young family” and his day job were bigger priorities, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom pulled out of the race for California governor today.

Newsom was once a Democratic Party rising star. Then:

And then in April this year he announced he was running for governor. So we see how well that went.

Newsom’s second term as San Francisco mayor lasts through 2011.

Bridge still closed through Friday evening commute

bridge_closedEngineers were continuing to test the completed fix-to-the-repair on the suddenly dubious Bay Bridge today, and CalTrans announced at 10:00 a.m. today that the bridge would remain closed throughout the Friday evening commute. It could possibly open as early as late Friday evening. You can click the map at left for a current traffic map or go to

You can text the word ALERT to 45227 (which is KCBS radio) and get a text message when the Bay Bridge reopens.

Update, 3:20 pm: The site now says the bridge will be closed “through Friday,” but “if” the bridge remains closed, BART will run hourly all-night service to the East Bay tonight and Saturday night. Here’s the all-night BART details. Note that only 14 stations will be in operation overnight.

Public pleads with CalTrans: Don’t rush repairs again

The Bay Bridge could be open as early as Thursday evening “if everything goes perfectly” with repairs to the troublesome spot on the cantilever span, CalTrans told KRON Channel 4 today. “If something happens during the testing” and they have to adjust the repairs, it could take days longer.

Meanwhile, a UC Berkeley engineering expert was being quoted in news reports saying the design of the first fix — which was done while crews were cleaning up from the mammoth Labor Day re-route — was “not correct” and left the span vulnerable to complete collapse in the event of an earthquake. It was nothing more than a Band-Aid, he said.

An Associated Press article quoted a driver as saying the accident yesterday had caused her to lose “so much confidence in the experts, the millions of dollars that are being spent to reconstruct and build a new bridge,” referring to the decade-long project that will eventually replace the entire cantilever section with a suspension bridge.

The failure was probably caused by continuous heavy winds this week, CalTrans said. Wind continued gusty today while a new repair was being worked on. Asked to describe what the new design was like, a CalTrans spokesman said, “Think of a big belt around a piece of wood.”

Somehow that image doesn’t comfort me.

BREAKING: Bay Bridge closed again after repair fails

The Bay Bridge was closed around 7 pm this evening after the emergency repair accomplished over the Labor Day weekend broke apart, raining heavy steel pieces and cables down on westbound traffic.

California Highway Patrol officers are still working, two hours after the incident, to clear heavy traffic from the bridge, after which it will be closed in both directions indefinitely. Monitor the Twitter account @baybridgeinfo for information.

Watch this for me, will you?


On Alabama Street near Cesar Chavez.

The bay this morning


Off Oyster Point near South San Francisco. No traffic jams, no storms, no Twitter.

Copious & Minute Review of Trauma Episode 2

The Trauma miniseries, featuring the safety service personal – EMTs namely, and their experience of catastrophies (of which there are approx. 5 a day!)– is still going on in our fair city. It’s filming on my block in North Beach, and taking up a precious block of non-street cleaning parking. Neighborly tensions are high.

On my way back from a run I noticed about 5 really attractive people sitting outside Kennedy’s. Not to harsh on Kennedy’s, but these people were Tall and Skinny. I thought it was appropriate that they were dressed in brown and black.

“They call us down and then we have to wait 7 hours. It’s like this each time.” And a lot more grumbling from the extras and staff. Note: a little bird told me they’re not getting carried over into another session, so feelings may be low.

Some neighbors have been complaining, and from what they’ve seen on TV, it hasn’t lived up to the hype. Most of us are just shocked at the money that Hollywood is paying in location fees. For some reason I think it’s 10K/day per spot, but not including the cost of cops, actors, etc. of course.

But anyways, what do you *think* about the miniseries? Well I’ve watched it far too many times, and here are my thoughts.


Westbound Bay Bridge closed by big rig rollover


Update: All westbound lanes reopened a little after 8 pm tonight.

A Safeway truck flipped around 2:30 this afternoon after encountering the new S-curve on the Bay Bridge, leading to these pictures: a parking lot on the westbound incline, and a completely empty stretch of roadway after the site of the crash, just before the Yerba Buena Island tunnel.

Click the pix for more webcam images, of get the story and video on the KPIX website. More on the KGO TV website, including the obvious:

The driver, who suffered a bruised leg, was driving 55 mph in the 40 mph zone and did not know the speed limit had been changed. He said he had not driven over the bridge since before Labor Day and was taken by surprise by the S-curve.

Stiles, Mayor are National Book Award finalists

Congratulations to San Francisco’s T.J. Stiles, whose nonfiction book The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt has just been named among five finalists for the National Book Award. Here’s the New York Times review of the book, from May. Trivia: according to his website, Stiles is also a karate black belt.

Joining Stiles is Adrienne Mayor and her book The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, also a nonfiction finalist. Mayor is currently a visiting professor at Stanford.

The whole list of finalists is here.

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