04/05/2013 07:29 pm ET Updated Jun 05, 2013

Bay Bridge Party Plans Charge Ahead

Don't worry, be happy. State officials promise busted bolts won't rain on the Labor Day weekend celebration at the new Bay Bridge.

News that steel rods that are supposed to reinforce the bridge during an earthquake snapped like so many pretzels isn't hurting fundraising for celebratory events either, said Jeremiah Hallisey, of Alamo, a former California Transportation Commissioner who sits on the board of the nonprofit Bay Bridge Alliance.

The alliance is raising private money for the celebration fireworks show and to help offset other costs. The commission is also contributing up to $5 million in toll money.

"We're going to have adequate funds," Hallisey said.

Logistical planning for the celebration is on the fast track, too.

"We have a lot of work going on right now on the permitting side in Oakland and San Francisco," said Mark Guelfi with Hartmann Studios, which has been hired to produce the event.

Folks will be able to bike the full length of the bridge from Oakland to San Francisco on Sept. 1. They can run a half-marathon or a 12k on Sept. 2. Or they can paddle from Berkeley to the base of the new suspension bridge tower on a flotation device of their choice.

Registration will open on in early May for these athletic events, which will come with yet-to-be-determined fees to defray the costs.

Less athletic bridge afficionados may walk the bridge for free on Sept. 2 from early morning until dusk.

But walkers must obtain passes that will allow them to board shuttle buses within specific time frames at one of four downtown Oakland BART stations.

Think of it as the equivalent of a Disneyland FASTPASS -- just like Space Mountain, the bridge will hold only a limited number of people at the same time, so the timed passes will spread out the load.

Walkers will be able to request passes later this spring at the website. At that time, event organizers also plan to open phone lines and announce physical locations where people may request passes.

Sign up at the website for email notifications about dates for event registration and pass reservations. Folks interested in working as volunteers may also register online.

A dedication ceremony for the new bridge is set for Sept. 1 although it will be an invitation-only affair due to limited space and access. And the traditional chain-cutting ceremony will take place early Sept. 2 just before the first wave of walkers hit the new bridge deck.

The bridge opens to traffic in time for the morning commute on Sept. 3.

Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773,, or ___


The Bay Lights