On bridge safety
I read the editorial you reprinted from the Marin newspaper about the median barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge. I appreciate the attention you brought to a very important decision that the directors will be making later this year.
As your readers know, the lanes on the bridge are narrower than standard width. The total road is limited to the space between the towers. When- I first jointed the board several years ago; I read all of the many studies of the 2-foot wide barriers in use elsewhere.
They predicted we would have many more people seriously injured (though not by crossovers) due to much narrower lanes, and the barrier being shoved far into the oncoming traffic. That is why the judge decided as she did. The most recent tragic accident (not the lawsuit) spurred the barrier designers to propose a new 1-foot barrier, with springs to limit the distance it would move into oncoming traffic. The bridge paid part of that
Now the bridge has hired the Northwestern University Traffic Institute to examine this new barrier. They will examine lane widths, results of deflection, and will predict what the results will be on the overall safety of our drivers. That report is due this fall.
Meanwhile, we are paying over $100,000 per year to the California Highway Patrol for extra patrols, we have received permission for a double fine zone, we have two warning vans, driving the bridge during the day and have bought the latest technology laser gun for the CHP to use on the bridge. I agree with your headline that we are "obliged to ensure bridge safety." All of the directors will be using the standard of overall safety for all of our drivers, when the decision is made.
Napa County Director of the
Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District
The article appeared in The Press Democrat- 1996