under-construction.jpgThe next and final phase of the construction project replacing the seismically unfit Doyle Drive approach to the Golden Gate Bridge kicked off this morning with transportation and elected officials speaking underneath the stretch of U.S. Highway 101.

Following the demolition of Doyle Drive this spring and construction of a seismically safe temporary bypass and a new viaduct, the second phase of the Presidio Parkway is set to begin in the coming months.

Phase Two includes the demolition of the old High Viaduct with its International orange-painted undercarriage that matches that of the Golden Gate Bridge, construction officials said.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, standing under the newly constructed bi-directional High Viaduct highway and nearby tunnel, stressed the importance of completing the project in a timely manner. The project will add construction and planning jobs using federal, state and local funds–all while creating a private-public partnership, she said.

“We have to do this,” Pelosi said.

The $1.4 billion construction project is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.

After the viaduct demolition, plans include building three more tunnels, one alongside the completed southbound Battery Tunnel and two Main Post tunnels. In addition, construction will include the northbound High Viaduct, a low viaduct on the east end of Doyle Drive and an interchange leading into the Presidio at Girard Road.

The project received $132.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, along with a $147 million federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan, transportation officials said.

The private-public partnership with Golden Link Concessionaire marks the first in the state since legislation passed allowing such arrangements in 2009.

“These partnerships are a creative tool,” Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty said this morning.

Today’s transition between phases also marked a change in control of the project. Golden Link Concessionaire CEO Bob Kuo ceremoniously accepted a golden shovel representing the transfer of responsibility for the remainder of the project and beyond.

The partnership is a 30-year agreement that states that Golden Link Concessionaire will provide investment capital, oversee construction and handle operations and maintenance of the approach.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, wearing a bright orange Giants sweatshirt during the cloudy morning news conference said the start of Phase Two is “as good as that grand slam yesterday,” referring to a home run by catcher Buster Posey during the Giants’ National League Division Series win Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds.

The assemblyman thanked Pelosi for working to secure funding for the Presidio Parkway.

“You’d be surprised how much tap dancing goes on for this type of project,” Ammiano said.

At the local level, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell also expressed gratitude for the congresswoman’s efforts pushing funding and legislation along and the efficiency of the first phase of the project.

“The speed at which it got done is remarkable,” Farrell said.

He noted the continued improvements will open up the Presidio and show more views that had been previously covered by outdated structures.

The new design for the approach is touted as providing more access for pedestrians and bicyclists, while supporting rehabilitation of the marshlands and wooded areas of the Presidio, project officials said.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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