Contractors out on the bustling Bay Bridge construction zone spent their third full day tearing out more old bridge deck, laying down new asphalt and painting shiny white striping as they worked around the clock toward the scheduled Tuesday 5 a.m. opening.
Despite being pushed to reveal whether it would open early or not, bridge officials would not budge.
"If we can open early, we will but don't plan for an opening from a crystal ball. It is still 5 a.m. Tuesday." said bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon for the millionth time.
CHP spokesman Daniel Hill said they will roll out traffic on the new span as soon as Caltrans gives the word, whenever that is.
At least one fun fact emerged from a day on the bridge: We're told the mischievous Bay Bridge troll, spirited off the bridge in the midst of all the construction hustle and bustle, will take its rightful place alongside the dignitaries gathered for Monday's 3 p.m. chain-cutting ceremony.
But back to earth: The day's work included a thorough cleaning of the upper and lower tunnels through Yerba Buena Island, starting with hot water and moving on to a cleaning solution if necessary.
"It's dirty," said Greg Allen, project manager for MCM Construction. "But it's not too bad."
Workers also installed new LED light bulbs.
From just outside the east entrance to the tunnel, Gordon pointed out a striking feature of the new eastern span during a press tour Saturday morning.
"Headed east you have a clear shot out of the tunnel," he said. "And very quickly you are in daylight and on the same level as westbound traffic. Before, all you saw was the S-curve."
Crews also removed a 1,000-foot portion of the westbound (upper) deck of the old eastern span to make room for the new span's temporary pedestrian and bicycle ramp. The ramp, which will extend past the tower but not all the way to Yerba Buena Island, is scheduled to open Tuesday at noon. There will be no pedestrian or bicycle access to the island until the ramp is completed in 2015.
CHP spokesman Hill said there hasn't been any major problems with motorists during the closure but cautioned to not pull into closure areas to ask for directions or inquire about the project.
Speed limit on the new bridge is same as the old: 50 mph, but when the bridge opens Hill cautioned motorists to observe another, temporary, feature of the new eastern span -- a short on-ramp to the bridge from Yerba Buena Island.
"It's a very short onramp, then a stop sign, and then a short merge," Hill said. "It's going to difficult to get on the freeway at first. We want to urge motorists to be careful."
Hill added that CHP officers stationed at the 15 onramps to the Bay Bridge had been visited by motorists unaware, despite warnings posted on freeway signs as far away as Anaheim, that the bridge is closed for the Labor Day weekend.
Gordon said all grinding at the toll plaza was complete, and that striping on westbound lanes headed to the toll plaza had begun. In addition, the CHP reported that demolition of the Oakland touchdown was nearly complete.
He also said there could be minor delays getting construction trucks on and off the work site Saturday night because of two events -- the Oakland A's game against Tampa Bay at 6:05 p.m., and the California-Northwestern college football game at Berkeley's Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
Although other bridges and freeways have been congested, transit stats suggest many people opted to use public transit to get around if they could.
BART ridership set another record Friday with 457,018 trips, fourth largest in the system's 40-year-history, and nearly as many as Thursday's number of 475,015.
And finally, as quickly as it was bathed in the media spotlight, the Bay Bridge troll slipped back into the shadows.
The good-luck charm has been removed from old eastern span, where it had been surreptitiously affixed by ironworkers after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. Its most recent adventure occurred when some night-shift workers decided to take matters into their own hands and removed the good-luck charm.
But representatives of MCM Construction and American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises, two of the new bridge's major contractors, got into a heated yelling match over who should take possession of it, sources confirm.
A CHP officer negotiated a temporary custody agreement, and the troll is currently in an undisclosed location, confirmed Bay Area Toll Authority spokesman John Goodwin.
No doubt getting a "shave and a haircut" in preparation for its appearance at Monday's ceremony.