Doyle Drive work could start in 2010 

Construction work on the San Francisco approach to the Golden Gate Bridge will likely begin in 2010, now that $405 million has been secured to tear down and rebuild the aging road, the state’s top transportation chief said Thursday.

Close to 120,000 cars travel the 1.5-mile stretch of Doyle Drive daily. Simulation models show that if the Golden Gate Bridge approach were to be shut down due to earthquake damage, traffic would be brought to a crawl on all other major Bay Area bridges, according to city officials.

For more than three decades, there have been efforts to make the safety improvements, but they have stalled, mainly due to a lack of funding. The project is now calculated to cost $810 million. According to Mayor Gavin Newsom, another $200 million in state and local funding — including $100 million from a 2003 voter-approved local transportation sales tax — is also available for the roadway construction project.

"We’ve got about a $175 million gap, which we think is achievable, to finally get the work done," Newsom said at a press conference Thursday, where he was joined by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Last September, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority approved a preliminary design for the Doyle Replacement. The project is going through an environmental impact study that is due to be completed by the end of 2007, according to Caltrans Director Will Kempton. Detailed engineering would follow, with construction slated to begin in 2010 and end as early as 2013, he said.

The project would involve tearing down and replacing Doyle Drive, the portion of U.S. Highway 101 located within the Presidio, connecting the San Francisco Peninsula to the Golden Gate Bridge and the North Bay. Doyle Drive was originally built in 1936 and is structurally unsafe, Kempton said.

"There’s not much of that bridge you’d want to save," he said.

The road replacement would be done in stages, in order to keep traffic moving along, he said.

"There may be a few periods of time — a day here, a day there, perhaps longer — that we’ll have to have a closure," Kempton said. "But certainly the vast number of days when the construction’s going on, the traffic will be maintained."

Jose Luis Moscovich, the executive director of the SFCTA, said the governor’s support of the Doyle Drive replacement provided the needed muscle to encourage the California Transportation Commission to allocate money for the project. The transportation agency voted Wednesday to allocate the $405 million through the State Highway Operation and Protection program.

beslinger@examiner.com

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