Highway Collapse Causes Transit Expansion

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An early morning tanker truck crash that collapsed a portion of heavily-traveled freeway near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has shut down the artery indefinitely. In response, officials are urging Bay Area motorists to take transit.

Standing near the wreckage Sunday night, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed that the state would respond quickly.

Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency to speed up cleanup and rebuilding efforts. He also authorized free transit Monday on ferries, buses and the rail system that takes commuters across the bay.

Transportation officials said it could take months to repair the damaged interchanges, and advised motorists to use public transportation in and out of San Francisco. They added trains to the rail system, and bus and ferry operators also expanded service.

''People are going to have to find a different way to work and back home in the evening, so we are asking them to plan ahead and do their homework,'' said Jeff Weiss, spokesman for the California Department of Transportation. ''This isn't going to be fixed in a matter of days.''

Nearly 75,000 vehicles used the damaged portion of the road every day. But because the accident occurred where three highways converge, authorities said it could cause commuting problems for hundreds of thousands of people. State transportation officials said 280,000 commuters take the Bay Bridge into San Francisco each day.

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