Motorcyclist survives scary bridge crash

March 27, 2008 8:06:18 PM PDT
As people who ride will tell you, the problem with motorcycles is that every accident is serious. And when you hear what Michael Wahl lived to tell us about Wednesday's huge accident on the Golden Gate Bridge, it's remarkable that he's still here.

He's very sore, cut and bruised, but Wahl was released from the emergency room just hours after the accident. He then hitched a ride home, back over the bridge, to San Rafael Thursday morning.

"I remember it all. I never lost consciousness one second of the whole time," says Wahl.

Wahl has some stitches in his right leg, but he figures that's nothing compared to what could have been. He was on his daily commute over the Golden Gate Bridge Wednesday afternoon when a head-on collision happened right in front of him.

"I remember seeing the driver in the red car.as he got hit thinking, 'oh, there's a lot of metal in front of me, it's not going to be pretty,'" says Wahl, who was thrown 30 feet from his bike.

"And I tried to hit my brakes, but it was too fast. Both cars pushed back and I plowed into both of them and at that point I went up and over the cars and landed on cement down the road," says Wahl.

Wahl says he always been concerned about the lack of a median barrier on the bridge, but had no idea there's been one in the works for 37 years. It's been stalled by design problems and money.

The bridge lanes are more narrow than standard highway lanes, existing barriers were too big, new barriers fit the narrow lanes, and just last month, the MTC approved $20 million for the $25 million project.

The bridge can now move ahead with an environmental impact report and a final design. But it could still be three years before a moveable barrier is a reality.

"It's a complicated process. We're a historic structure. We have to go through the visual analysis and the cultural and historical analysis that's that's required," says Mary Currie with the Golden Gate Bridge District.

Wahl plans to get back on his bike before then, though for a split-second yesterday, he thought he'd never have that chance.

"For that brief second when I was hitting cement I thought, 'that's it, it's over.' It's the grace of God, there's no question in my mind, zero question. There's no reason I should walk away from that with minor injuries," says Wahl.

In addition to the $20 million from the MTC, the federal government has also chipped in $490,000. There is still a little bit of a gap to get to that $25 million, but the district says at this point, they certainly do have enough to move forward.


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