For the first time in its history, the Golden Gate Bridge will close for construction so the long-awaited movable median barrier can be hauled in and replace the hollow, yellow plastic tubes currently separating the opposite directions of traffic.
The $30 million, 32-inch-tall, 12-inch-wide barrier will be put in its new place spanning the bridge's length during a closure planned Jan. 10 at midnight to Jan. 12 at 4 a.m.
The bridge, which celebrated its 77th anniversary Tuesday, was closed for a few hours once in the 1950s and twice in the 1980s due to wind storms, and for a walk on its 50th anniversary in 1987, but never before for construction.
"We didn't make the decision lightly," bridge district General Manager Denis Mulligan said. "But it's the only safe way to install the movable median barrier onto the bridge."
If hit by a vehicle, the barrier, which is still being constructed along with two barrier transfer machines, could move slightly and is designed to redirect the vehicle back into traffic. The barrier idea dates back decades and bridge directors in 1998 approved it but could not move forward without funding.
The last fatal head-on collision on the bridge was in 2001. The accident rate is three times lower than in the 1980s, Mulligan said.
Bridge directors on Friday also awarded a $5.6 million contract to Ghilotti Bros., Inc. of San Rafael to demolish four toll booths, construct a new one and work on the bridge approach on the Marin County end. That work is needed in order to accommodate the two barrier transfer machines.Extra Golden Gate ferry and bus service will run during the Jan. 10 weekend.