Thursday, June 9, 2016

Seasonal Adjustments to Afternoon Lane Configuration

Seasonal adjustments to the afternoon lane configuration are coming to the Golden Gate Bridge starting June 14, 2016. These changes are intended to improve traffic flow during the summertime evening commute periods.

First, some background: Since January, 2016, the Golden Gate Bridge has been configured with 4 lanes northbound and 2 lanes southbound (4 North / 2 South) between 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm on Thursday and Friday evenings. Bridge management continually monitors real time traffic data, including travel times, vehicle counts, and traffic back up distances and has concluded that these afternoon diversions have been successful in reducing congestion and travel times for northbound traffic while not introducing unreasonable delays for southbound traffic.

As the summer season begins, two shifts in afternoon traffic patterns have occurred that warrant adjustment to the lane configuration schedule. First, the afternoon commute surge is starting about 30 minutes earlier in the afternoon, now starting about 3:00 p.m. Second, northbound traffic volumes on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings have increased to the point where adding a 4th northbound lane is justified. In response to these shifts, a 4th northbound lane will be provided for northbound traffic between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons. This is a half hour earlier than the current Thursday – Friday schedule. (Please note that it takes 30 minutes for the zipper trucks to complete a lane change, which means the diversion will start at 3:30 p.m. and complete at 5:30 p.m.) On Monday afternoons, the lane configuration will remain at 3 North / 3 South.

This adjustment will introduce delays for southbound drivers who currently experience very minor, if any, delays on Tuesdays and Wednesday. The intent is to balance delay time for all drivers, without creating unreasonable delays for anyone.

“We think we have done reasonably well managing afternoon delays for the past several months, but these seasonal adjustments are necessary to deal with increased delays we are now seeing northbound on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings ,” says Kary Witt, Bridge Manager. “We have only six lanes to work with. When demand exceeds capacity, backups are going to occur and drivers will be delayed. We’re working to make those delays as equitable as possible for drivers in both directions without making them unreasonable for anyone.”

Here’s the schedule in grid form for the new afternoon commute across the Golden Gate Bridge beginning Tuesday, June 14th, 2016.

Monday 3 North / 3 South
Tuesday 4 North / 2 South from 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 4 North / 2 South from 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Thursday 4 North / 2 South from 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Friday 4 North / 2 South from 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

The District will continue to monitor traffic and the impacts of these changes and will make additional adjustments if and as warranted.