The demolition of San Francisco’s Doyle Drive is going well and on schedule for Monday’s scheduled reopening, Caltrans officials said today.

“They are not encountering any unexpected issues and it’s proceeding really well,” Caltrans spokeswoman Molly Graham said.

Doyle Drive, which is seismically unsafe, is undergoing a $1.1 billion replacement.

After the closure, traffic will be transferred onto a temporary bypass that connects to a newly constructed southbound tunnel. The tunnel will accommodate traffic in both directions until 2015, when crews construct a northbound tunnel.

Caltrans has issued repeated warnings to drivers to avoid the Doyle Drive approach to the Golden Gate Bridge and seek alternate transit during the closure, which is scheduled to extend from 8 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday. The closure begins at Marina Boulevard and Richardson Avenue near the Palace of Fine Arts, but was expected to back up highway on Highway 1 south through the city.

The warnings have been successful, however, and traffic has been unexpectedly light, which makes it easier for the construction work to move smoothly, said Graham.

Golden Gate Bridge traffic was about 50 percent lower than usual today and ridership on Golden Gate Bridge Transit District ferries is up by about 50 percent, bridge district spokeswoman Mary Currie said.

No numbers were available for bridge district buses this weekend, but Currie said it appeared more people were using those as well.

“Everything Caltrans has done in advance in terms of public outreach in keeping people out of the area has been successful,” Currie said.

The bridge normally averages around 110,000 to 115,000 cars a day over a seven-day period, Currie said.

Starting Monday, the five-lane approach to the bridge will feature a movable barrier that will allow three lanes to be dedicated to the busiest direction of traffic, Graham said.
“It’ll be safer, with no more possibility of head-on collisions,” she said.

Also unexpected has been the enthusiastic response of San Francisco residents to the demolition.

Groups have gathered at points in the Presidio and elsewhere in the city to watch and cheer as sections of the elevated roadway come down, Graham said. At least one viewer compared it to the response when the Embarcadero freeway was torn down.

“It’s turned into quite an event,” Graham said. “You have almost a festive atmosphere.”
Graham said she expects that there will be delays during the first couple of weeks while drivers get used to the new configuration.

Motorists and public transit users are encouraged to call 511 or visit to find out current traffic conditions. More information on the project’s impacts on traffic is available here.

Sara Gaiser/Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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