Contractors realigning Interstate 80 with the new Bay Bridge remain on schedule for a Tuesday 5 a.m. opening, reported Bay Bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon on Sunday morning.
Whether or not the bridge will open earlier remains the number one source of speculation out on the bustling construction site as the hundreds of private contractors, tradespeople, consultants and engineers who have helped build the $6.4 billion span over the past 11 years begin to see the finish line.
As of Sunday, Gordon said the work was 80 percent complete. The roadway connection at Yerba Buena Island tunnel was completed at midnight Sunday and contractors continued to grind up a piece of the old eastern span of the bridge to make way for the temporary bicycle and pedestrian trestle.
The bridge has been completely shut down to motorists since Wednesday night while MCM and Flatiron West grind, pave, stripe and install barriers for traffic lanes that will link the bridge at the island and the toll plaza in preparation for the traffic switch-over.
The contractors are also demolishing a 1,000-foot section of the upper westbound deck on the Oakland side and installing in its place a temporary bicycle and pedestrian overpass. Cyclists and walkers will use the temporary wooden trestle starting Tuesday at noon while contractors remove the lower westbound deck and build the permanent path.
And Caltrans is taking advantage of the rare closure and checking off months' worth maintenance chores on the west span within a few days such as steam cleaning the inside of Yerba Buena Island tunnel, replacing the tunnel lights with LEDS to match the new eastern span and lubricating the expansion joints.
In reality, several years of work both big and small remains after the bridge opens to traffic -- paint touch-up, final aesthetic lighting, permanent bike and pedestrian path installation in Oakland and punching the path all the way to Yerba Buena Island after the old bridge is demolished. There will be no pedestrian or bicycle access to the island until the path is completed in 2015.
But for the next two days, the focus is on opening the much seismically safer new bridge to motorists by the time they return to work Tuesday after the long holiday.
"We have been very fortunate not to have had a major earthquake before the new span opens," Gordon said.
Another source of speculation Sunday was over the who's who list of dignitaries expected to christen the new bridge at Monday's invitation-only chain-cutting ceremony, set to start at 3 p.m.
"Plenty of people of note," promised Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin.
Asked if President Obama would attend, Goodwin said: "That's not a name that's been mentioned thus far."
Various elected and transportation officials will speak, including Metropolitan Transportation Commission Chairwoman and Orinda Mayor Amy Worth. The long-elusive Bay Bridge troll is expected to make a rare appearance. The Pacific Boys Choir of Oakland will sing the national anthem and the Oakland Military Institute will present the colors.
Gov. Jerry Brown is out of state and not scheduled to attend but Lt. Gov. and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is expected to be on hand.
Other scheduled speakers include State Building and Construction Trades Council of California President Robbie Hunter, Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty, Metropolitan Transportation Commission Executive Director Steve Heminger, American Bridge/Fluor Joint Enterprises President Mike Flowers and state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley.
Follow Lisa Vorderbrueggen on Twitter at twitter.com/lvorderbrueggen.