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pretty awesome idea.
The High Line was an abandoned freeway on the Lower West Side in NYC that got turned into a park. How about turning the soon-to-be-replaced B...
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It is a great idea, but the reason to replace the existing bridge is that it is not earthquake safe. A problem that NYC didn't have. 
In the last earthquake, part of the top deck fell, I don't think it was a load issue. I rather not be on the bridge when the next big one hits.
It's a nice notion, but I'd imagine such a use would expose even more people to danger in the event of an earthquake induced failure.  I'd imagine the issue is not with the load, but the inherent quake-worthiness of the bridge structure itself in the event of a significant Bay-area quake.
When they proposed the High Line I thought it was the dumbest idea ever.  I'm so glad to have been proven wrong - the High Line is one of the best things about NYC, and makes me smile when I look out the office window to see the rolling expanse of green on the West Side.
Sure earthquakes are a concern.  

An even BIGGER concern is wind gusts.  There have been a few times when I've seen most of the traffic on the bridge do an involuntary half-lane lane change.  ...and I didn't even cross the bridge very often when I lived out that way.

How are we going to feel when a family of four gets blown into the water?  This is an ill-considered idea.   Sure, use the space for something cool... but not a park.
There is an organization called rails to trails, who works toward turning old railways into bike trails
Getting one in Chicago.  Not sure the property value over SF Bay needs to improved though so not sure it has the same appeal as a park on the west side of Manhattan.  But let's see if it flies.
Speaking from having worked on the Skyway and SAS tower base portions of construction from 2004 to 2008 I would say it you should watch the bidding process carefully, especially if ZPMC (The provider of the Chinese steel portions of the SAS Tower and cargo cranes for the Port of Oakland) wins the contract to demolish the Eastern Span.

The FBI Investigation of welder's claims were unfounded and aggrandized by opportunistic journalists from the Oakland Tribune, the items recently published by the SacBee are not in my field of expertise (welding) and I was not present during the days that the piles were poured so I cannot comment on the veracity of either side of the debate.

The likelihood of getting even temporary permission to use the structure is limited, but your best bet is to go through the MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) rather than CalTrans.
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