Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge celebrates 15 years

It has been 15 years since the Alfred Zampa Memorial bridge opened to westbound traffic on Interstate 80 between Vallejo and Crockett, replacing the original 1927 Carquinez Bridge that got Zampa his start as a bridge builder.

Alfred Zampa was a blue-collar ironworker that worked on bridges in California, Arizona and Texas. In the 1930’s he worked on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. Bridge building in those days was famously fatal, as Zampa told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1986: “Anytime someone got killed on the job, we’d go jittery and go home for the day. We’d wonder, is it our turn next? If we got hurt, we couldn’t get no insurance, no welfare or nothing, until the union came up. I don’t know where I’d be without the union.”

In October of 1936 Zampa fell from the Golden Gate Bridge and lived to the tell the story. He slipped on a wet piece of iron, flipped backwards three times and hit the safety net, but it was loose and Zampa crashed into the rocky Marin County shore. After a long recovery he went back to work on Bay Area bridges and construction projects.

His work, larger than life personality and the fall made him a minor celebrity, but he was a working class man with modest means, the son of immigrants.

The Alfred Zampa Memorial Bridge is the only bridge in the U.S. named for a blue-collar worker. It represents the men and women of all building and construction trades who work on and build these projects which become monuments for generations to see and visit.

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