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" Golden Gate Bridge Panel OKs   Crash Tests on Movable Median"

By Tyra Lucile Mead Staff Writer
 San Francisco Chronicle - Wednesday, July 10, 1996

    The likelihood that a median barrier will someday separate traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge increased dramatically yesterday when a bridge district committee agreed to help pay for crash tests on a concrete and steel prototype.  It is the first time in more than a decade that a proposal for a movable barrier has received such serious attention. The tests on the $5.7 million divider, designed by Barrier Systems Inc. of Carson City, Nev., could be complete in four to six months.  "I think maybe we're going to break through and come out with a better answer," said Carney Campion, the general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. "I'm very enthused."  Campion, who was confident that federal funding could be found to finance the project, said he hoped the barrier would be installed in about 18 months. 

    In yesterday's action, the building and operating committee agreed to spend $42,500 toward the crash tests, about half the total cost. The panel also authorized spending $50,000 on safety studies that would look at all the ways that a barrier might affect traffic flow.  The proposal is to be considered by the district's budget committee tomorrow before proceeding to the full board of directors on Friday.  The full board will also take up proposals for pursuing legislative action that the committee approved yesterday, including installing radar to more rigorously enforce the 45mph speed limit and imposing higher fines for speeding on the bridge. 

    The flurry of activity comes two weeks after 38 year-old Tamar Kraut of San Francisco, a psychologist and HMO executive, was killed in a head-on collision near the bridge's north tower. She was the third person since 1990 to die in a wreck on the bridge. The barrier is made up of meter long units that hinge together to form a continuous, snakelike strand, which can be moved with a specially designed truck. The latest design would reduce the width of the roadway by a single foot.

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