Median barrier on Golden Gate Bridge taking shape with contract approval

A barrier planned for the median of the Golden Gate Bridge to prevent head-on collisions took a step toward completion Friday when the agency that operates the span approved a contract for the project’s final design.

Since 2009, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District has been working on a median barrier that can be moved to accommodate traffic flows across the span for different commuting needs. The plan is for a 1-foot-wide, 32-inch-tall concrete barrier that would be moved using a special vehicle. The $25 million project will replace rubber pylons currently used to divide traffic.

The bridge district on Friday approved a $2.15 million contract with Oakland-based AECOM Technical Services to perform the final design of the barrier. According to bridge district documents, the company was responsible for the environmental review and preliminary technical design, which made it the best fit to do the final work.

“It is a significant step toward putting a movable barrier on the bridge,” district spokeswoman Mary Currie said of the contract’s approval.

Though there are occasionally head-on collisions on the span, Curry said there are significantly fewer accidents than on roadways with comparable traffic lanes.

The last time there was a fatality from a head-on collision on the bridge was in 1988.

A movable median was expected to be in place sometime in 2011, but staff shortages at Caltrans, which had to sign off on the plan, and at the bridge district caused the needed studies to take longer than expected. The environmental review and design for the project have added complexity because of the bridge’s status as a historic landmark.

mbillings@sfexaminer.com

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