A bomb scare on the eastbound off-ramp to Treasure Island Friday afternoon prompted authorities to shut down traffic on the Bay Bridge, causing a huge traffic jam ahead of what was already shaping up to be a bumper-to-bumper evening commute.
The report of the suspicious object came in around 12:52 p.m., triggering an investigation by CHP.
The suspicious device was found on one of the railings of the eastbound Treasure Island off-ramp, CHP Officer Mike Ferguson said.
CHP immediately shut down the eastbound on-ramp and westbound off-ramp.
Fearing potential injuries or loss of life, Caltrans asked the CHP to close the entire bridge at 2:45 p.m., quickly creating a monumental back-up on both sides of the Bay Bridge and surrounding streets.
The closure lasted for about 30 minutes. The CHP escorted a number of cars across the bridge around 3:15 p.m.
Gray and about the size of a Nerf football, the object was laying on the shoulder of the road leading onto Treasure Island.
"It was something that looked very suspiciously [like] an explosive device," said Ferguson. "A very suspicious item. A gray cylinder. It looked very suspicious."
Fairly quickly, the bomb-detection robot was able to determine that the object was not a threat.
"Anytime we have suspicious debris or something that looks suspicious to one of our officers, we want to make sure it is perfectly safe for the public so we need time to evaluate that we want to do that safely," said Ferguson. "So, of course we're going to direct people around that and keep people from accessing that from the scene."
Bay Area roadways were already expected to be jam-packed Friday evening with the bevy of sports events and concerts on tap.
Aaron Siuda, vice president of Live Nation Northern California, said that between the Legends of the Summer tour at Candlestick Park, a John Mayer concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, and A's and Giants home games, "it's a really big week for the Bay Area."
He advised concertgoers to take public transit or carpool. For those braving the roads, he said, "Don't plan on allowing yourself the normal time to get to a concert."
Instead, he advised leaving very early and expecting heavy traffic.
Live Nation has compiled a website with information about parking discounts, public transit options, shuttles and other transportation information. That site is available at ticketmaster.com/jtjzcommute.
California Highway Patrol Officer Art Montiel said extra units will be out on U.S. Highway 101 on Friday.
"It's going to be busy," he said. "We're going to be prepared for that."
San Francisco police spokeswoman Officer Tracy Turner said there will be increased enforcement near AT&T Park and Candlestick Park.
"We're ready," she said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of bicyclists will gather at Justin Herman Plaza at 5:30 p.m. and then head out for Critical Mass monthly ride on the streets of San Francisco.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.