Don’t Try This At Home

There are people who like to recreate their favourite moments from movies, as evidenced by this story . You might think that the scene mentioned in my previous post, Dustin Hoffman driving across the Bay Bridge, was a lot easier and safer to recreate. However, you would be wrong.

Alfa Romeo stopped selling cars in the US over fifteen years ago, although they plan to return in late 2009. (A date that happily coincides with the likely date for replacing my present car) So you cannot buy a new Alfa, although California’s dry climate, which reduces the incidence of rust, combined with the iconic nature of the Alfa Spider means that they are available second hand, albeit at horribly high prices for such old vehicles.

The main reason, however, that recreating this particular movie scene would be difficult is that the top deck of the Bay Bridge is actually for traffic going into San Francisco. In The Graduate Hoffman is driving on the top deck away from the city. The bridge was actually closed while the filmmakers shot the car driving towards Berkley on the top deck. The Spanish steps drive might have been dangerous, but going in the wrong direction on a Bay Area freeway is even more perilous.

Published in: on 25 August, 2007 at 10:36  Leave a Comment  

Bridge across Troubled Water

The geography of the Bay area means that it is frequently necessary to cross bridges. There are six major bridges that cross the bay (View Map). The most famous is the Golden Gate that carries the 101 Freeway from San Francisco into the North Bay. The other one of note is the two-deck Bay Bridge, across which Dustin Hoffman drives in his Alfa Romeo in The Graduate. The two that I use most often are the Benicia and Carquinas bridges which link to the East Bay areas.

Fortunately, I do not need to cross either on my way to work. The bridges are both a source of tail backs and are financed through a $4 toll. The toll only applies in one direction, but a daily commute will still consume about $1000. The toll booths do not take credit or debit cards, so you must have cash with you or have a special transponder fitted to your car. This latter option is preferable as you do not need to stop as you go through the toll booths, and there are special lanes for transponder fitted cars which reduces queuing times.

A new North bound span has been built for the Benicia bridge, which opens today. This will give the crossing five lanes in each direction. The toll booths also include an enhanced transponder system, which allows drivers to go through at full freeway speeds, rather than slow down to 20mph as is required at the other crossings. The original stated purpose of this blog was to focus on differences between the US and the UK, but the Benicia Bridge illustrates that somethings are the same; originally budgeted to cost $300m, the final cost was $1.2bn.

Published in: on 25 August, 2007 at 8:46  Leave a Comment