Doyle Drive construction plan scrutinized

July 24, 2009 7:12:09 PM PDT
We've been hearing a lot about the upcoming total closure of the Bay Bridge on Labor Day weekend. But what about weekend closures of Doyle Drive?

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Construction to replace Doyle Drive is set to begin later this year, and the project promises to bring some major traffic headaches.

Doyle Drive is the access road from San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge. But many people also use to get on to southbound Presidio Parkway for destinations like San Francisco's Sunset District, Highway 280 and the airport.

That exit off of Doyle is scheduled to be closed for about three years, beginning in a matter of months. The on-ramp from Presidio Parkway onto Doyle Drive will also be closed for 12 to 18 months and sometime during the next three years, all of Doyle Drive will be closed twice for three days.

That's what Caltrans told the Golden Gate Bridge District on Friday. The Doyle Drive replacement project is scheduled to begin in a matter of months.

"I believe we've looked at all the options and this is the best option we've come up with," said Gene Gonzalo from Caltrans.

The ramp closures will force traffic onto surface streets and Caltrans plans for the official detour to loop through the bridge district's parking lots, which are already often clogged with tourists.

"The people who live in San Francisco will know where to go to avoid the congested areas. The detour we have in place that goes through the toll plaza and maybe uses Lincoln Blvd. will be for the people who are not familiar with the area," said Gonzalo.

The bridge directors are livid, worried about losing toll revenue from commuters and tourists, who want to avoid delays and hassle.

"People arent going to tolerate an extra 45 minutes for three years. They aren't going to tolerate the city streets for three years," said Bridge Director Barbara Pahre.

Doyle Drive needs to be replaced because the 70-year-old structure is not safe in an earthquake. After years of design and funding problems, it's ready to go.

The construction schedule has been accelerated from original plans in part to take advanatge of stimulus dollars and lower than usual construction costs.

The Bridge District is asking Caltrans to re-consider the current closure and detour plans.

"We're going to find out," said Bridge Board President Al Boro, over the power the Bridge District has to influence Caltrans decision.

The Doyle Drive replacement is now scheduled to be finished at the end of 2012.

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