April 2, 2010

Update on GGBHTD Financial Plan Initiative #22

"Implement Expanded Bridge Concession Opportunities"

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD) is facing a $132 million five-year shortfall. On October 30, 2009, the GGBHTD Board of Directors adopted a financial plan that includes 33 different initiatives that will undergo further evaluation, review, and public input over the next few years in order to attain a stable financial status.

In November 2009, the first step was taken on initiative #22, “Implement Expanded Bridge Concession Opportunities” (a.k.a. Bridge Experience), when a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was issued inviting firms to submit qualification and experience in regards to the concept of developing and implementing interactive visitor program and activities that tell the significant historical, engineering and cultural story of the Golden Gate Bridge (Bridge). Six firms responded. Following an initial review by staff in February 2010, three firms were found to possess experience and qualifications worthy of further exploration, evaluation and review.

Prior to taking the next step towards more in-depth review and evaluation of the three firms and their submittals, staff commenced a feasibility analysis to evaluate the practicality of undertaking critical Bridge projects while at the same time proceeding with a program involving enhanced physical access to the Bridge structure. As we reviewed the proposals and understood more clearly what would be needed to carry out their ideas, the more apparent it became that the potential for conflicts with two major upcoming projects was high.

There will be continuous, challenging work on the Bridge for the next three to four years associated with the Main Cable Recoating and the final phase (Phase 3A and 3B) of Seismic Retrofit. This work includes sidewalk segment closures, complete replacement of sections of the Bridge roadway deck, and complicated overhead work on the main cables and Bridge towers. Based on this feasibility analysis, the original RFQ process has now been suspended.

According to General Manger Celia Kupersmith, “Our highest priority and greatest responsibility is to maintain the structural integrity of the Bridge. We cannot compromise the completion of the Seismic Retrofit and Main Cable restoration with an additional project on the Bridge structure at the same time.”

The scope and timing of initiative #22 will be reconsidered and brought back to the GGBHTD Board of Directors later this year. While the original concept of behind- the- scenes tours is not moving forward at this time, we will shift the focus to developing concepts for expanded visitor facilities and services in the southeast visitor area. The re-scoping will look more closely at what can be accomplished in conjunction with the National Science Foundation interactive outdoor exhibition which is under development now and planned to open in May 2012.

Additional Background on Main Cable Recoating Project

This project will begin in about 60 days and take 3 years to complete. Work crews will being work on the west side Main Cable as they commence the recoating project. Work will include erecting tent- like containment structures over segments of the main cables. Inside the tents, crews will be cleaning the surface of the existing paint, roughing the entire surface to be ready to accept the new primer and topcoat, making any needed repairs, and undertaking any needed re-caulking as they go. The work that will be performed is considered an over-coating paint job, so the crews do not have to perform abrasive blasting down to bare steel; instead the surface preparation will include using hand held vacuum shrouded power tools while working inside the tents. Any loose paint chips will be “sucked” into the hand held vacuum tools. Then the new paint system will be applied, and the tents repositioned along the main cable.

Crews will start at the roadway level at mid-span, and do the several hundred feet that are accessible at this location using a stationery scaffolding system with a tarp system to catch anything that may possibly get missed by the hand held vacuum tools. Once they move past the mid-span section and start to move higher on the cables, crews will use a powered suspended scaffold system, also with tarps. These sections will be about 60 feet-long as they move along the Main Cable.

Additional Background on the Seismic Retrofit Project

Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit Construction Project, Phase 3A is underway now and involves the retrofit of the Marin (North) Anchorage Housing and the adjacent Pylon N1. A construction contract for this Project was awarded in April 2008 and it is scheduled to be completed in 2011. During Phase 3A, the Bridge roadway and sidewalks within the limits of the Marin Anchorage Housing will be entirely replaced, along with other significant seismic upgrade measures. The sidewalk replacement will be completed first. It is scheduled to begin in summer 2010 with, first, the replacement of the 300 foot-long portion of the west sidewalk, followed by the replacement of the 300 foot-long portion of the east sidewalk. The sidewalk work will take approximately 120 days per side. Then, the roadway replacement will proceed.

During the Phase 3A construction, the Bridge roadway and sidewalks will remain open at all times for vehicles and bicycles to cross although the work will involve nighttime closures of selected traffic lanes and detours of the bicycle traffic between the sidewalks. There will be some limitations to pedestrian access on the east sidewalk. Except for the 120 days scheduled for the replacement of the Marin Anchorage Housing roof portion of the east sidewalk, the pedestrians will continue to have access to the east sidewalk across the entire Bridge. During the 120-day period, pedestrians will be allowed to walk on most of the east sidewalk; however, they will not be able to walk all the way across the Bridge due to the replacement of the 300 foot segment of the east sidewalk.

Phase 3A is a $125 million project that is being funded with a combination of Bridge tolls, federal funds, and state and regional funds. Phase 3B is estimated at $260 million and is planned to go out for construction bids in 2011. It will retrofit the main span, the two main towers, and south tower pier and fender.

The Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit Construction project was divided into three phases, two of which are now completed. Phase 1 retrofit the Marin (north) Viaduct structures and was completed in December 2001 using $71 million in toll dollars. Phase 2 undertook the retrofit of the San Francisco (south) viaduct structures and Fort Point Arch. It was completed in spring 2008 at a cost of $189 million, with $112 million in federal funding and $77 million in regional and state funds.

Following the events of September 11, 2001, Phase 3A and 3B were redesigned to incorporate additional security measures to aid in protecting against manmade threats as well as to seismic vulnerabilities.