The double-deck freeway that collapsed during the 1989 earthquake, killing 42 people, reopened to traffic Wednesday after $1 billion in repairs that make it, mile-for-mile, the most expensive stretch of highway in America.
Waving and honking, motorists drove across the new five-mile Cypress Freeway.
“We weren’t paying very much attention to the cars, but I did fire up a Cuban cigar - and I don’t even smoke,” said Stephen Williams, a spokesman for the California Transportation Department.
The 7.1-magnitude quake killed 67 people and caused an estimated $7 billion in damage to the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of those killed on the Cypress Freeway were trapped when the upper roadway collapsed onto the lower one.
The rebuilt freeway consists of only a single deck, which is considered safer in an earthquake. It was designed to withstand a quake registering 8.5.
The new freeway, which is 3.5 miles longer than the old one, skirts the impoverished West Oakland neighborhood where many residents made heroic rescues of trapped motorists. The community had demanded the road be moved.
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