A northbound driver on the Golden Gate Bridge veered into oncoming traffic in the southbound lane Wednesday, crashing head-on into three cars and causing a nine-car pileup that injured at least seven people, including an infant.
Opposing traffic on the world-famous span is divided by a series of 19-inch rubber tubes 25 feet apart that can easily be plowed over by wayward drivers. Since 1971, 36 drivers have died crossing the bridge.
At 2:40 p.m. Wednesday, a Volvo station wagon driven by a young Daly City man traveling to Marin to attend college crossed over the plastic dividers and slammed into a Lexus sport utility vehicle, a Toyota Prius and a Honda, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Mary Ziegenbein.
Seven other southbound vehicles, including a motorcycle, were involved in the accident just south of the bridge’s north tower, Ziegenbein said. "There’s no indication why it crossed," she said.
The Volvo driver and the motorcyclist received "serious injuries," Ziegenbein said, and they were among seven people taken to San Francisco General and Marin General hospitals.
The bridge was shut in both directions until 4:18 p.m., which caused major traffic delays. Traffic was also snarled downtown as peak hour drivers headed to the Bay Bridge to avoid the iconic span.
Officials with the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District have secured $25 million in grants to install a one-foot wide moveable barrier to "virtually eliminate crossover accidents," according to the agnecy’s Web site.
District spokeswoman Mary Currie said the moveable barrier meant to cut down on crossover accidents won’t be installed for two more years because environmental and engineering analyses are needed, but she said Tuesday’s accident could help speed up the process.
"The types of accidents we’ll see on the Golden Gate Bridge will shift with a movable median barrier in place from crossover accidents … to more minor types of accidents," Currie said.