Crash survivor inaugurates Golden Gate Bridge safety barrier 

click to enlarge The Golden Gate Bridge was expected to reopen at 4 this morning following weekend work to install a new movable safety barrier on the six-lane span. - ERIC RISBERG/2013 AP FILE PHOTO
  • Eric Risberg/2013 AP file photo
  • The Golden Gate Bridge was expected to reopen at 4 this morning following weekend work to install a new movable safety barrier on the six-lane span.

A survivor of a 2008 head-on crash on the Golden Gate Bridge spoke Sunday from her wheelchair to help inaugurate a new mobile median safety barrier for the iconic span.

Bay Area physician Grace Dammann, paralyzed since the crash, spoke at a foggy ceremony on the bridge to express her happiness at the new barriers.

The project's chief engineer, Ewe Bauer, and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, cut a giant red ribbon on one of the distinctive yellow trucks that will move around the 1-foot-wide safety barriers on the bridge's six lanes.

While the dignitaries talked, work crews kept at their assignments, including painting new dividing lines on the bridge roadways.

The Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District closed the bridge to private traffic this past weekend for the longest period in its seven-decade history to install the safety barrier and do other work.

Officials shut the bridge to all but pedestrians, cyclists and buses starting early Saturday. Crews by Sunday already had finished installing the barriers, made of steel-clad concrete blocks, and were confident of reopening the bridge to commuters by their target of 4 a.m. today, spokeswoman Priya David Clemens said.

The suspension bridge opened in 1937, and previously has closed only for shorter periods, including for celebrations and work projects.

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