For the first time in history, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge is closed for the weekend.
Since the Golden Gate Bridge was first opened in 1937, it has undergone only minimal closure.
Priya Clemens, a Golden Gate spokeswoman, said the following.
“It’s been closed a few hours for high winds and for ceremonies, but it has never been closed for one full day much less two whole days.”
Starting at 12 a.m. Saturday, all lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge were closed as work crews swarmed the area to begin work. Bikers, buses, and runners were allowed to cross, but not cars. The bridge is set to remain closed until Monday at 4 a.m., though it may reopen sooner if the crews complete work early.
Since 1970, there have been over 120 head-on collisions, resulting in 16 fatalities on the iconic bridge. As a result, a moveable barrier is being created in the middle of the structure.
The barrier will consist of 3,500, 32-inch-tall, 1-foot-thick steel and concrete blocks attached to each other by steel pins. The plans for these barriers have been in the works since 1985, when the two-foot-thick version of them was rejected.
During peak times on the Golden Gate Bridge, trucks will be able to move the blocks over one lane, meaning that most of the people in charge of replacing the plastic tubes that once separated cars will be able to retain their jobs.
Drivers may have some trouble getting used to the loss of six inches to the inner lanes of the Golden Gate Bridge. In order to keep the bridge safe, officials have reduced the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph.
Meg Zodrow, a frequent Golden Gate commuter, spoke to Mercury News about the change.
“I always felt bad for those guys hanging out the side of the cars, grabbing those pins. Maybe it will take away from the aesthetics of the bridge, but I personally will feel a lot safer. There’s no way there will be a head-on collision. That was always a concern driving the bridge twice a day for nine years … The way we live changes, so the bridge has to keep pace.”
For commuters that normally take the bridge, there are other options than driving across. The Golden Gate Transit bus service will be operating and the Golden Gate Ferry service will expand service, as well as include late-night services. Richmond and Bay Bridges will serve as alternate routes.
[Image courtesy of Wikipedia]