15 October 2009

The "S" Curve

It snarled traffic around the Bay area well into the early evening. In fact it took me two-and-a-half hours to get home last night via an alternate route.

Such is life when you live in San Francisco and work in the suburbs (or vice-versa).

At about 2:30pm yesterday, a Safeway truck loaded with food flipped over on its side, blocking the four right lanes of the Bay Bridge right at the new temporary "S" curve near the tunnel at Treasure Island.

The impact on traffic was swift and immediate. The Bridge backed up all the way past the metering lights and toll plaza, back through the connecting highways of "the maze" and beyond. Drivers were blanketed with messages from radio and cell phone to take alternate routes into the city.

I had stopped at Trader Joe's near work on my way home to pick up a few odds and ends. I put my groceries in the back seat and got into my car around 4:55pm, just in time to hear the 4:58pm traffic report on KGO-AM, where I heard of the accident, and how the Bridge and surrounding highways were at a stand still. The radio news reporters talked with an anchor from KGO-Channel 7 (ABC) who said he had been on the Bridge for two-and-a-half hours at that point, had stopped moving, and that people had turned off their cars and were standing outside chatting with each other.

As I approached the Nimitz (I-880), I decided I would take the freeway south toward the San Mateo Bridge, get across that span, and then take the 101 north into the city. It's a round about way, but on a good day the commute would take me about an hour.

At that point, however, the Nimitz was a slow moving parking lot. I never went over 20 mph, and it took me an hour and ten minutes to get to the San Mateo Bridge (just under half the trip). Two-and-a-half hours after leaving Trader Joe's, at about 7:30pm, I walked in the front door.