Cost of six-day Bay Bridge closure in lost bridge tolls: about $2 million.
Cost of repairing the bridge: $1.5 million to $2 million.
Extra money from higher BART ticket sales: perhaps tens of thousands of dollars.
Cost of annoyance from freeway traffic delays: priceless.
Calculating the full cost to the region of the six-day closure of the Bay Bridge from Oct. 27 through Monday morning is difficult, officials say, even though bridge and transportation agencies say they can estimate some of their costs.
"I don't think anyone can really estimate the entire cost because some things are hard to quantify," said Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the Bay Area Toll Authority, which manages toll funds. "I don't think you can put a price on the aggravation of being stuck in traffic."
Caltrans closed the bridge to fix Labor Day repairs on a brace protecting a cracked beam.
Many drivers spent long hours commuting on clogged freeways to other bridges, or they crammed onto BART trains or ferries.
A very rough estimate of the value of the lost time comes to about $7.5 million for motorists who cross the Bay Bridge, according to an analysis by Bay Area News Group after consulting with several transportation experts.
In the week before the bridge closed, there were 228,000 bridge crossings per day from Wednesday through Sunday, the same days of the week that the bridge was closed.
If you assume each driver wasted a half-hour on each of those two daily commutes, the lost time would amount to about 570,000 hours. Using figures from the a toll authority survey, motorists who cross the Bay Bridge make about an average of $33 per hour, and they value their time stuck in traffic about $13.20 per hour. That works out to about $7.5 million in lost time for Bay Bridge drivers.
Businesses also were hurt by the bridge closure. Workers were late or absent. Deliveries were disrupted. Meetings were canceled.
"The economic impact was huge, although it's hard to get firm data," said Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council, a business advocacy group. "This shows how our system of moving people and goods in the Bay Area is dependent on bridges."
Perhaps surprisingly, UPS, the huge delivery company, reported that it weathered the closure with minimal disruption.
UPS neighborhood delivery workers do not cross the bridge because their routes are on one side of the Bay or the other.
Big trucks that visit package distribution centers routinely travel in off-peak hours to avoid the rush-hour traffic messes during the bridge closure, said Susan Rosenberg, a UPS spokeswoman.
"Yes, we rerouted some trucks, but that was in our contingency plan," she said. "We had a dress rehearsal for our plan during the Labor Day bridge closure."
The bridge was a mixed blessing in some regards.
While San Francisco parking garage operators complained about depressed revenues from fewer cars, some residents of the city talking glowingly of less traffic and noise in their neighborhoods.
BART reported a surge of 470,000 extra passengers during the bridge closure, but it also had higher operating costs for more workers and trains. An estimate of how BART fared during the closure is not available yet.
Despite the surge in BART ridership, taxi drivers at the Walnut Creek BART station said Thursday that they did not get more taxi customers or fare money.
Rusi Baria said he took twice as long as usual to deliver a customer to San Francisco Airport on the first full day of the closure, yet he felt obliged to charge the customer the regular fare.
"I can't charge a regular customer double because the bridge is closed. It wouldn't be right," he said.
Reach Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Read the Capricious Commuter blog at www.ibabuzz.com/transportation.