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Bay Bridge 76th Anniversary: San Francisco Structure Celebrates Birthday, Prepares New Span For 2013 (PHOTOS)

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SAN FRANCISCO BAY BRIDGE
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While the better-known bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area gets fireworks and fanfare on her birthday, the Bay Bridge celebrates her 76th with a more sensible celebration.

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge celebrated 76 years on Monday. And though the Golden Gate might be more recognizable, the Bay Bridge is the local workhorse, carrying about 270,000 vehicles a day and boasting one of the world's longest spans.

But the topic of discussion surrounding the Bay Bridge is hardly the anniversary, but rather the projected opening of the bridge's retrofitted new span next year. And with the near-completion of a complicated load transfer--the transition from its temporary to its permanent supports, and the last nail-biting part of the project--things are looking good.

"This was really the last big question for the bridge, and looks like it's about to be answered successfully," said Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.

The new span has been a Bay Area hot topic since the earthquake of 1989 brought a section of the top deck crashing down on cars below it. (Several hiccups surrounding the over-budget, behind-schedule new span haven't helped.)

But if all goes according to plan, Bay Area commuters should be able to drive onto the new span by the end of next year.

Take a look at the progress of the project in our slideshow below, and Happy Birthday, Bay Bridge!

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Filed by Robin Wilkey