Bay Area residents brace for weekend BART transbay tube closure

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU and wires) -- Bay Area weekend commuters and visitors were bracing Friday for a weekend shutdown of BART's Transbay Tube -- a closure that will halt the system's access from the East Bay into San Francisco.

BART will be halting service from its West Oakland Station to the Embarcadero station in San Francisco and vice versa all day this Saturday and Sunday for critical track maintenance, repairs, and upgrades. The West Oakland BART will also be completely closed during that time,

   Closures will be in effect from the end of service on Friday and Monday service is scheduled to resume as usual.

   BART officials estimate that approximately 80,000 riders who rely on BART to travel across the bay during the weekend will be affected. The California Highway Patrol said that motorists can expect more cars on the road and additional congestion throughout the Bay Area. 

   The Oakland A's will be hosting two home games at the Coliseum on Saturday and Sunday. A's officials are encouraging attendees to consider other modes of transit that will be available, including the ferries and the AC Transit bus service. In addition, the Oakland Art + Soul Festival and the 42nd Annual Nihonmachi Street Fair in San Francisco falls on this weekend, as well as the Oakland Jazz Festival in Hayward on Saturday. 

   While transportation will be limited with the scheduled BART closures, other public transit routes are planning on accommodating their schedules to the BART closures.

   The San Francisco Bay Ferry will be doubling its usual weekend service on the Alameda/Oakland/San Francisco route and enhance service on the Vallejo/San Francisco route, according to San Francisco Bay Ferry officials. 

However, ferry riders are encouraged to arrive early and have alternate back-up plans as it is unknown what the rider volume will be, ferry officials said in a statement.

   BART will also be running a free AC Transit bus bridge between the 19th Street Bart Station in Oakland and the Transbay Temporary Terminal in San Francisco, which is a couple of blocks from BART's Embarcadero station, BART officials said. 

However, BART officials estimate taking the bus bridge will be one to two hours longer than the regular BART commute and that the bus bridge is intended only as a last resort for those with no other options. 

   Access to the West Grand Avenue on-ramps to Interstate Highway 580 will be restricted to buses only, CHP officials said in a statement.

   The California Highway Patrol is encouraging motorists to plan ahead and allow for additional travel time or considering alternate routes that avoid the Bay Bridge or the San Mateo Bridge. This weekend, it will be important for drivers to ensure that vehicles have enough fuel in case of delays and that they are in working order, to prevent accidents and further delays, according to CHP.

   CHP officials also suggest that if a trip across the bay is non-essential that commuters reschedule their plans to another weekend. 

   The Transbay Tube is also planning another scheduled closure Sept. 5-7, according to BART officials.