Moveable barrier work prompts Golden Gate Bridge closure

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If your weekend plans have you driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, you'll need to find another way.

The bridge will close this weekend, so a new movable barrier can be installed. The bridge closure begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday to 4 a.m. Monday.

The bridge district know they're going to inconvenience people. They plan to increase bus and ferry service.

The bridge has only been closed five times in its history and this will be the longest.

It's one of those famous locations where, if you stay long enough, much of the world does pass by.

Tourists love the Golden Gate Bridge for its beauty, but commuters also know to fear it.

If you've been around long enough, maybe you remember the head-on collision that nearly killed San Francisco resident Grant Gilligan in 1996.

As with all other 16 head-on collisions since 1970, there's was no getting out of the way.

He's one person with the experience to appreciate and accommodate what will be a difficult closing this weekend.

The district says it thought long on this. "It's not a decision we made lightly, but when we evaluated the choices it was the only way to install the barrier safely without prolonging it over a period of two weeks," Golden Gate Bridge District Manager Dennis Mulligan said.

The new barrier system took more than 20 years to develop, partly because the Golden Gate Bridge's six lanes are unique and narrow.

A 2-foot wide barrier would have been too dangerous said bridge manager Kery Witt. "We have 10-foot lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge, with the exception of curb lanes which are 11 feet for trucks and buses. But the 10-foot lanes on the bridge, if you put a 2-foot barrier out there now all of a sudden the lanes adjacent to the barrier are 9-foot lanes and that would be too narrow," he said.

These new barriers, are just 1-foot wide at the base, but they're likely to prevent future head-on collisions according to Chief Engineer Ewa Bauer. "This is a whole string of units that will resist the impact," she said.

For the bridge, it's a major victory that cost $30 million and took two decades to develop.

For Gilligan, who survived, married, had a child and founded a company, better late than not at all. "I thought maybe half that time would've been reasonable, but at least it's being done, you have to give them credit for that," Gilligan said.
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