Commuters should plan on going at least one more morning without the Bay Bridge, Caltrans announced Wednesday evening.
"It will probably not be open for (today's) morning commute," agency spokesman Bart Ney said.
Crews worked through Tuesday night and all day Wednesday to fix damage caused when three pieces of steel used in an emergency repair over Labor Day weekend fell onto the upper deck Tuesday evening, hitting a truck and two cars.
While Caltrans refused to predict a bridge reopening date or time, Ed Puchi, treasurer of MGM Construction of Sacramento, the lead contractor on the repair, said he thought the work will be finished sometime today.
Wednesday's commutes were heavy as anticipated, as commuters crawled along Bay Area highways and packed into BART trains.
Ridership between San Francisco and the East Bay on Wednesday morning surged 49 percent above typical days to a total of 83,000 transbay riders, BART said. Overall ridership rose 24 percent, to nearly 140,000 commute riders.
Wednesday evening's commute numbers were not expected to be tallied until today, but BART spokesman Jim Allison said the agency was expecting an extra 50,000 transbay riders above the average.
Complicating matters further for some commuters, an explosion in an underground electrical vault cut power to the South Hayward BART station, preventing trains from stopping Wednesday night. Passengers had to use adjacent stations and take buses.
In addition, BART decided not to provide overnight service — instead, officials opted to shut down service at the normal time Wednesday and restart at the normal time this morning.
Allison said it was partly a financial choice, but a choice that was also made "for the greater good."
Heavy traffic was reported during both commutes on the San Mateo and Richmond-San Rafael bridges and Interstate 880 — the artery connecting the East Bay to both bridges.
Still, the California Highway Patrol said it saw few of the crashes and fender-benders that some anticipated due to the increased carload.
"We did not have a spike in calls for service (Wednesday)," CHP Officer Sam Morgan said. "That's OK with us."
The CHP escorted Treasure Island residents on the span itself, Morgan said.
WestCat's Transbay Lynx bus service, which normally connects Hercules/Rodeo and San Francisco, has been redirected to the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station pending reopening of the bridge.
BART ran longer trains beginning at 4 a.m. Wednesday and used both inbound and outbound tracks in San Francisco to handle the extra trains from the East Bay.
Commuters said they dealt with the closure by giving themselves more time to reach their destinations. Although BART added cars to its trains, riders still had to cope with less personal space, or longer waits at stations for trains with room.
"(BART cars) were packed to capacity. It's usually crowded at this stop, but not like this," said Lynda Williams, an Oakland resident who had to let two BART trains pass before she could board at the West Oakland station Wednesday morning.
Morgan suggested that commuters continue using all forms of public transportation today, while Allison said people should find a ride from someone else to BART stations.
"Don't expect to find parking at stations," he said.
Commuters can obtain real-time travel information at 511.org or by dialing 511.
Staff writers Janis Mara, Robert Solanga and Denis Cuff contributed to this story.