After years of political battles, and then years more of construction, the new east span of the Bay Bridge will finally open early next week. Before the entire bridge closes to allow Caltrans crews to switch from the old span to the new, SFist took a tour of the new bridge to get you these exclusive pictures.

Remember, the entire Bay Bridge will close Wednesday at 8 p.m., and if all goes well it will reopen at 5 a.m. next Tuesday. BART will run 24 hour service between 14 stations, and other cross-bay transit operators have special plans. For cyclists, there wil be a special shuttle service during the closure, and there's info on the smooth, sleek bicycle/pedestrian path on the new span. And for you hardy Treasure Island residents, yes, you'll be able to get back and forth across the Western span.

From what we saw, Caltrans' optimism seems warranted. There will be big realignments at each end of the new span to switch traffic from the old cantilever to the gorgeous new Self-Anchored Suspension Span, with fresh paving, new lanes painted, and drive-thru espresso kiosks installed (sorry, we're kidding about that last part). But judging from our amateur inspection today, there are only a few last projects being completed on the span itself, and the whole crew we met seemed calm and confident.

Although there is continuing controversy over the faulty steel fasteners that, um, actually hold the bridge up, Caltrans says their tests checked out. We jumped up and down on the bridge a few times, and it seemed pretty solid.

For now, enjoy these pictures, and lots more here.