Road to Golden Gate Bridge getting billion-dollar makeover

Road rehab to be completed in 2013.

Major construction began last Wednesday on the Doyle Drive Replacement Project, one of the nation's largest, most complex, and labor intensive Recovery Act-funded highway projects. For more than a half-century, replacing Doyle Drive has been a priority for state, local, and federal officials, according to the Department of Transportation, which added that Recovery Act funding helped this project begin a year earlier than originally planned.

When completed in 2013, the project will replace the 73-year-old Doyle Drive southwest of the Golden Gate Bridge. The project also will result in structural and seismic improvements to the Presidio Trust and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area nearby, DOT said.

The new access to the Golden Gate Bridge from the south side will feature six lanes and a southbound auxiliary lane of new roadway for 1.5 miles from the bridge through the Presidio Trust to Richardson Avenue/Lombard Street. DOT said the improvements will significantly reduce the risk of an earthquake cutting off this key commercial artery for the Bay Area. The department noted that closure of Doyle Drive due to earthquake damage would have dramatic economic consequences because it is the city's primary access route from the Golden Gate Bridge, and links San Francisco with San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties to the south and Marin and Sonoma Counties to the north.

Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez joined state and local officials southeast of the Golden Gate Bridge as excavation began Wednesday on the first of four tunnels. "The Recovery Act is helping make travel in and out of the city safer and easier," he said. "This major investment in labor, time and funding will directly benefit quality of life for San Francisco-area residents."

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood echoed those sentiments, saying, “The economic benefits of this project to the Bay Area are matched only by the safety benefits to the public.”

Twelve different funding sources, spanning federal, state, regional, and local governments, will finance this billion-dollar project. The Recovery Act provides $129 million including $83 million in formula funds allocated toward the current tunnel excavation, and a $46 million Recovery Act-funded TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant. The TIGER grant will provide additional funding for construction of the Girard Interchange, which will create access from the Presidio Parkway to local roads, improve safety of an aging road and replace a bridge rated as the worst in California for structural sufficiency.

Of the more than $26.6 billion in ARRA highway funds available nationwide, California’s share is $2.57 billion. As of July 19, the state had funded 943 projects totaling $2.47 billion, with 412 projects underway and 122 completed.