Bridges Become Tunnels  

Webster St. Bridge collapseAs Oakland and Alameda grew and commerce knit them together, bridges across the Estuary became a necessity. The Webster Street Bridge was the first to be built. Completed in 1871, this long wooden trestle with iron draw was replaced in 1900 by a modern iron and steel bridge. The Central Pacific's Alice Street Bridge opened in 1873 as the first railroad bridge across Estuary. The Southern Pacific replaced it in 1898 with a new span at Harrison Street.

Although all of these bridges included movable sections, or draws, which were swung open to allow boats and ships to pass through, they were still seen as obstacles to commercial shipping. The solution was the Posey Tube, opened in 1928. This tunnel under the Estuary was built of precast concrete sections which were floated to the site, sunk, and assembled at a sufficient depth to allow deep-draft ships to pass overhead. An adjacent tunnel, the Webster Street Tube, opened in 1963. Ironically, these tunnels are no longer deep enough allow the largest container ships to pass overhead.

Woodruff Minor

Oakland Museum of California Logo  "Walk Along the Water"
  Oakland Museum of California, used with permission.

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Link to photograph of bridges crossing the estuaryHistoric photograph of bridges crossing the estuary at Webster and Harrison -
Port of Oakland Archive, used with permission


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