Monday, April 30, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Different

I certainly didn’t expect to include a photo of this in my West Oakland collection: This is a shot of a section of freeway that recently collapsed in this part of town.

Perhaps you’ve heard of this incident—I think it was national news. It’s certainly big here. A truck full of gasoline exploded on a freeway connector at exactly the point where it passes under another freeway, and the fireball melted the roadway above it. Now you can’t drive either road.

This was a fairly shocking event for me because I have driven many times on that exact piece of asphalt you can see drooping down. It used to connect the Bay Bridge to interstate 580, which is the freeway I normally take home from San Francisco. Of course I’m not alone in this situation; tens of thousands of cars pass that way every day.

Many people are saying it’s lucky that this accident didn’t happen mid-day when more people might have been hurt. Others are saying that if it had happened mid-day, all those cars would have made it impossible for the truck to go fast enough to lose control. I’m not sure who’s right; I’m just saying.

The remarkable thing is that no one was killed. No one besides the driver was even injured, and he’s getting out of the hospital soon.

Nobody knows yet how long it will take to repair the roads. Weeks, at least. We’re all going to get to know West Oakland a little bit better, because it’s now necessary to exit the freeway and drive surface streets almost as soon as you get off the Bay Bridge. Traffic will definitely be slow for quite some time. And not just because a couple of major roads are out of commission. Also because people seem to be rubbernecking. I took this photo from another freeway, Interstate 80 heading east, toward Berkeley. It was early afternoon on the day of the accident. Traffic was light, but at the accident site, the flow slowed down enough that I could take a photo out the car window.

Why did I have my camera in the car? I admit it; I was gawking too. I hadn’t intended to slow down enough to take a photo, I had intended to drive to IKEA, where I had heard there was a good view from the parking lot. But traffic did come to a near stop here, so I snapped away.

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