Golden Gate Bridge closing Jan. 10 for median barrier installation

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Golden Gate Bridge will be closed for 52 hours starting January 10 at 12:01 a.m. to 4 a.m. January 12, so crews can install a moveable median barrier to help prevent head on collisions.

By this time next week, will Golden Gate Bridge engineer Joseph Strauss be turning over in his grave or applauding?

"I think engineer Strauss would be pleased to see us continue to make advancements on safety on the bridge," Golden Gate Bridge Manager Kary Witt said.

Because unless you live on the moon or came her on vacation from someplace, there's a good chance you already know of next weekend's three-day closure to install a movable median barrier, which will divide northbound and southbound traffic on the bridge.

Witt is so pleased that he sounds almost like a salesman. "The bridge district has been working on this for decades," he said.

There is no official record about how many head on collisions the bridge has seen since it opened in 1933. At least 16 have been recorded since 1970, with five deaths since 1990.

What we'll have by this time next week is a safer bridge with slightly less cleaner lines. "I think it's one of those things where it's progress from a safety prospective, buts it's aesthetically a loss," Giles Goodhead said.

As to the process of moving the barrier within the lanes, custom zipper trucks will do the job. To hear the district tell it, those barriers are modern marvels made of high density concrete steel and hooked together with technology designed to give on impact.

They're very similar to those on Doyle Drive right now, but only one-foot wide.

It took the district 24 years of planning and testing to approve and build the concept at a cost of $30 million.

According to bridge engineer Ewa Bauer, patience has paid off. " I am trying to avoid frustrations and concentrate on solutions," she said.

The bridge as you now see it is about to become a thing of the past.

The Golden Gate Bridge District is well aware of the economic impact, which is why they chose to close the span during what's traditionally a slow weekend. And they say while it will be inconvenient for a couple days, in the end, the Bay Area will have a much safer bridge.
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