California's Bay Bridge
The Bay Bridge connects Oakland to San Francisco. Reuters

If you're heading to San Francisco for the long weekend, be prepared to take the scenic route.

The Bay Bridge, which connects Oakland to San Francisco, will be closed to all westbound traffic from 8 p.m. PT on Friday, Feb. 17 through 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Eastbound lanes will remain open.

During that time, San Francisco-bound travelers should consider public transportation such as BART trains or ferries. Those driving will have to take a detour via the Golden Gate Bridge, the Dumbarton Bridge, the Richmond San-Rafael Bridge or the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.

The temporary detour will allow the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to demolish a remaining section of the original Bay Bridge, making room for the construction of a new westbound approach.

In an effort to inform the public in advance of the shutdown, Caltrans has put out commercials, billboards and public announcements. They've also sent out an army of employees, who have gone door-to-door in Bay Area neighborhoods and proffered pamphlets at BART stations throughout the area.

The point of this reconstruction, which is slated for completion by Labor Day of 2013, is seismic retrofitting: making the bridge more capable of withstanding earthquakes. And after the two small tremors that recently surprised California residents in near the town of Vallejo -- one on Wednesday evening and the other on Thursday morning -- those renovations are certainly due.

Caltrans is encouraging travelers to call 511 or visit for more information and alternate routes.