A three-alarm fire at a construction site near the West Oakland BART station has shut down the Transbay Tube this morning, completely halting service in both directions between the East Bay and San Francisco. The fire broke out around 2:15 a.m. this morning and could possibly keep transbay BART service closed for "hours or even days" according to one spokesman for the transit agency.
The fire originated at a senior center that is under construction near Seventh and Mandela Parkway in Oakland and spread to nearby buildings as well as the elevated BART tracks. Firefighters shut off power to the tracks as a precaution, but the fire damaged some infrastructure including some utility poles. The fire was under control as of 4 a.m. this morning.
More on this as we get it. In the meantime, better go hop in the casual commuter pool now. We have a feeling those lines are going to be extra long with all the displaced BART riders this morning.
Update: KTVU's Sal Castaneda reports BART is hoping to reopen by 5 p.m. in time for the commute home, but for now, folks headed between the city and the East Bay ought to pick an alternate method of transportation.
Update: BART says it hopes to restore partial service from East Bay to SF by early afternoon, hoping for full restoration by 5 P.M.— Sal Castaneda (@ktvutraffic) June 14, 2012
ABC7 is live at the 12th Street BART station in Oakland where AC Transit shuttles in to the city are currently swamped with riders hoping to get to work. To hear ABC's traffic team report it, there's absolute lawlessness in the shuttle lines. That might be a little dramatic though.
Update 8 a.m.: On the traffic front: FasTrak lanes on the Bay Bridge are looking fairly clear just before 8 a.m. this morning, although cash lanes are unsurprisingly backed up as BART riders take to their vehicles to get in to the city.
It will take drivers a while to even get to the toll plaza though: Interstates 80, 580, 680 and 880 west- and northbound towards the Bay Bridge are all experiencing significant backups, with hour-long delays stretching from Carquinez or Walnut Creek all the way to the Maze. ABC7 recommends drivers head to the San Mateo bridge. SFist, meanwhile, recommends East Bay folks calm down a little bit and work from home today.
Riders on ferry services from the East Bay are also reporting significant delays. The brand new Alameda-San Francisco ferry is attempting to put another boat in to service, but the crews are ironically stuck in traffic.
We're also hearing reports that Highway 92/101 North on the Peninsula is starting to get backed up with drivers coming off of the San Mateo Bridge.
Update 8:30 a.m. BART spokesman Jim Allison reports that the damage mostly affected the electrical system and the agency hopes to be single tracking trains by early afternoon. Full service probably won't resume until after the evening commute. Allison recommends to ABC7 that BART commuters should "take a nice day off and enjoy the sunshine."
Adding to the mess: A motorcycle accident on the top deck of the Bay Bridge is blocking a middle lane before the tunnel, compounding delays heading in to the city.
WB 80 Bay bridge before the Tunnel. Injury motorcycle accident blocking middle lane. Adding to a horrendous commute. #HOTSPOT— Erica Kato (@KRON4EKato) June 14, 2012
9:30: If you need to catch a ride from East Bay to San Francisco, head to Jack London Square for ferry service. They've brought in a (private?) giant boat to whisk people across the bay.
9:35: SFist commenter OctaviusIII recommends the following alternates that don't involve AC Transit:
GGT Routes 40 and 42 go to Richmond and El Cerrito from San Rafael. Commuter buses to SF mostly flow through there. Route 29 connects San Rafael to Larkspur Landing, though it's sloooooow
Vallejo Transit Route 80 goes to El Cerrito from Vallejo Ferry
Amtrak goes from points along the East Bay to San Jose Diridon, where it connects with Caltrain
10:00: BART says that they "hope to have single-track trains running" by the late afternoon/early evening commute.