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article imageGolden Gate Bridge closing to install permanent lane divider

By Nathan Salant     Jan 4, 2015 in Technology
San Francisco - San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge shuts down this weekend to install a movable barrier designed to keep northbound and southbound traffic apart while allowing lanes to be shifted twice a day for rush-hour.
Officials say Friday is the last day to see the yellow plastic tubes that have divided lanes since 1963; the span closes Friday night and won't reopen until early Monday morning — with the new barrier in place.
The suspension span linking San Francisco and Marin counties carries more than 100,000 vehicles per day on six lanes of traffic, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
Usual lane alignment on the bridge is three in each direction, but other configurations are used when traffic gets heavy at the morning and evening rush hours.
"The new barrier system will provide a safer and more efficient system of dividing opposing lanes of traffic," officials said in a statement on the Golden Gate Bridge website.
"This new movable median barrier system will enhance safety by reducing the potential for cross-over collisions and will allow the Bridge District to more efficiently reconfigure lane changes to optimize traffic operations on the bridge," the statement said.
The Golden Gate Bridge is owned and operated by an independent agency — the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District — that uses toll revenue to fund bus and ferry systems in Marin, Sonoma and San Francisco counties.
Bridge officials and users, of course, expect the new barrier to make the span safer by eliminating or at least curtailing the number of head-on collisions that have plagued the structure since it opened.
Thirty-six motorists have been killed in accidents on the bridge since 1970.
The new $30 million barrier, which comes after decades of planning and controversy, was designed and built by Lindsay Transportation Solutions of Rio Vista, a small city northeast of the bridge in Solano County.
For anyone who can't wait to see the new barrier, it's stacked up in pieces behind a fence near the toll plaza on the San Francisco side of the bridge.
Bridge district officials advise bridge users to change their driving patterns beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday until 4 a.m. Monday, either by using the Richmond-San Rafael and San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridges or switching to Golden Gate Transit buses, which will be running.
Golden Gate Ferry will offer more boats and later hours during the three-day closure, and the bridge's east walkway will remain open.
Parking lots near the toll plaza will be closed, officials said.
More about San Francisco, California, Golden gate bridge, lane dividers, Traffic
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