By Joshua Johnson
It’s the reason Caltrans upgraded the Bay Bridge in the first place: After the 7.1-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, we all knew the eastern span could not survive another major temblor. Now drivers have a much safer span with better views of the bay. But what if you’re on the bridge when the Big One hits? Every temblor is different, so it’s hard to generalize about what you should do. Here are five tips to prepare you for an earthquake on the new Bay Bridge from Officer Sam Morgan, Oakland Area spokesman for the California Highway Patrol:
First, you might not feel a small quake at all due to the eastern span’s seismic shock absorbers. If you do feel it, try to pull over, stop safely and wait for the shaking and/or rolling to stop.
Second, and most important, STAY CALM. Morgan says a level head is vital to staying safe and alive after a big quake. Once the shaking stops, take a moment to assess the situation around you before doing anything. What’s the condition of the roadway – does it seem buckled? Does the self-anchored suspension tower above you look stable? Is there anything else above you that might fall? Are there car fires? Are there live wires? What's around you that looks hazardous? And what about you – are you injured but perhaps don't feel it because your adrenaline is flowing?
"When that top section collapsed (in Loma Prieta)," Morgan said, "there were one or two vehicles on the top section. … Two of those vehicles actually drove into the collapsed section more out of panic than anything else.”