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Golden Gate Bridge Traffic Down During Doyle Drive Demolition

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Construction equipment stands by along the bypass next to Doyle Drive in San Francisco, April 27, 2012. (Presidio Parkway))

Construction equipment stands by along the bypass next to Doyle Drive in San Francisco, April 27, 2012. (Presidio Parkway))

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Bridge traffic was about 50 percent lower than usual Saturday and ridership on Golden Gate Bridge Transit District ferries was up by about 50 percent, bridge district spokeswoman Mary Currie said.

No numbers were available for bridge district buses this weekend, but Currie said it appeared more people were using those as well.

Caltrans issued repeated warnings to drivers to avoid the Doyle Drive approach to the Golden Gate Bridge and seek alternate transit during the closure, which is scheduled to extend from 8 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday. The closure begins at Marina Boulevard and Richardson Avenue near the Palace of Fine Arts, but is expected to back up highway on Highway 1 south through the city.

“Everything Caltrans has done in advance in terms of public outreach in keeping people out of the area has been successful,” Currie said.

The bridge normally averages around 110,000 to 115,000 cars a day over a seven-day period, Currie said.

The demolition of Doyle Drive, which is seismically unsafe and undergoing a $1.1 billion replacement, has drawn crowds of eager viewers in the Presidio and elsewhere in the city. Currie said she had gone out to watch Saturday morning herself and found the view “very impressive.”

“One of the guys from Caltrans said that people are cheering every time one of the sections of the viaduct is dropped,” Currie said. “Apparently it has turned into a spectator sport.”

After the closure, traffic will be transferred onto a temporary bypass that connects to a newly constructed southbound tunnel. The tunnel will accommodate traffic in both directions until 2015, when crews construct a northbound tunnel.

Although open spaces near the project such as Crissy Field remain open during the construction, Caltrans spokeswoman Molly Graham said, “it’s going to be very noisy … and not exactly a park-like setting.”

Starting Monday, the five-lane approach to the bridge will feature a movable barrier that will allow three lanes to be dedicated to the busiest direction of traffic, Graham said.

“It’ll be safer, with no more possibility of head-on collisions,” she said.

Graham said she expects that there will be delays during the first couple of weeks while drivers get used to the new configuration.

“It’s a really key milestone for the project,” she said. “It allows traffic to keep moving and the second half of the project to be built.”

Motorists and public transit users are encouraged to call 511 or visit http://www.511.org to find out current traffic conditions. More information on the project’s impacts on traffic is available at http://511.org/doyledrive/DoyleDrClosureApr2012/default.asp.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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