Golden Gate Bridge will get new dividing barrier

September 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
First the Bay Bridge, now the Golden Gate -- it will be closed to install a barrier to prevent head-on crashes. A vote is coming later this week on whether to buy the system that has been chosen.

This project has been talked about for years, but has been held up at times by funding problems, and the need for something custom for this historic, narrow bridge. Now those hurdles are out of the way and it's full steam ahead, except for the detail of a full bridge closure that will take place about a year from now.

The last fatal head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge was in 2001. Right now plastic posts are still the only thing standing between traffic going in opposite directions.

In 2008, 11 people were injured when a single car crossed over, causing a nine-vehicle accident. Now the bridge district is buying a moveable zipper-style barrier.

"It's definitely going to help in regards to a head-on collisions. Yeah, I mean I ride a motorcycle, so when I'm in that lane sometimes, you think about it you know," said Peter Colon, a Golden Gate Bridge commuter.

District renderings show the 12-inch wide steel, concrete-filled barrier as it should look when installed a little more than a year from now. The bridge district acknowledges, it's not full-proof and it will make the already narrow lanes even narrower. The two on either side of the barrier will be reduced from 10-feet to 9.5 feet.

"If it is hit, it can move a little bit, will deflect a little bit, but cars will also deflect off of it and we may see some other kinds of accidents that we're not used to here on the bridge, like a little sideswipe or fender-bender," said Mary Currie from the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District.

Installation will require a first-ever construction closure of the bridge. It will take 52-hours, Friday night to Monday morning, in late October or early November of next year. Exact dates and time are to be determined.

"The barrier in all its various pieces will be put out on bridge. We have to do a lot of restriping, and just get everything ready. Our guys just have to be trained to be able to run the zipper trucks and so we need a 52-hour window to do that," said Currie.

The bridge district board will approve the barrier purchase on Friday.


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