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Marin Independent Journal                                     Editorial                                                  Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Bridge median barrier
should move forward


    GOLDEN GATE Bridge District officials are stuck in a financial pickle.  The district has a plate filled with expensive capital projects, but not enough money to go around.  Topping its priorities for more than a decade has been the much- needed seismic retrofit of the landmark span. Work has already begun, but the district is still trying to raise money to complete the $297 million project. Raising money by generating more revenue and winning state and federal grants has been a primary focus at the district's head quarters.

That job has seemingly overshadowed the construction of a $7 million movable median barrier, a project that will end the real danger of head-on collisions on the bridge. Two years ago, after years of debate the district board approved the barrier and said this life-saving wall could be built within 38 months.

Now, 24 months later, the district's engineer says "there are no funds for construction at this time."   Still, another bridge spokesperson says the barrier is moving ahead, slowly.  The district board needs to make sure the median is moving forward at a prudent pace. The seismic retrofit is Vital, but so is the median barrier.  Every day without the barrier, motorists run the risk of being involved in a deadly head-on.

Since 1970, when the district started compiling accident statistics, 34 people have died and hundreds more have been injured in bridge crashes. The fatalities from head-on number 26.  Every minute the barrier remains un-built there is a risk those numbers will rise, bringing tragedies with them.  Golden Gate officials need to put both the seismic retrofit and the median barrier on a track toward completion as soon as possible.


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