Q I was very glad to read about the installation of median barriers on some major Bay Area freeways. Your column makes a positive impact on the world. Would it be feasible to install a median barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge also? It gets very crowded, people drive pretty fast, and it's always nerve-racking to drive, with only some flimsy poles demarcating the two traffic directions.
A That it is. A movable median barrier could be installed by the end of 2013.
Q Any idea when construction will begin again on the Doyle Drive approach to the Golden Gate Bridge? Since the demolition of the old Doyle Drive and removal of the debris, there has been no work on the next phase of building the new tunnel and causeway of Presidio Parkway. Seems to me that all this good weather is going to waste when the work could be going on.
Tim Van Raam
A Bridge officials say there is work happening now, it is just not big, visible stuff. It includes tearing down old buildings, utility relocation and some tree removal, all of which are necessary to make room for construction of a second bridge. That should be under way late this year.
Q Some designer thought it was a good idea to install skylights halfway through that new tunnel on Doyle Drive in San Francisco. So it's shaded light halfway, then it flashes light on-off-on-off-on-off-on-off at you before it goes back to shaded again. Really hard for the eyes to adjust, especially on a curved high-speed roadway. Seems unnecessarily dangerous. I prefer safe roadways to pretentiously pretty ones.
A Me, too, and this is temporary. The skylights are actually ventilation areas with fans to be used in an emergency such as a fire. When work ends in 2015, they'll be covered, and the light problems you now experience should be gone.
Q I had FasTrak that I used infrequently, and it was canceled. Then I read where the Golden Gate Bridge will be using FasTrak only. Since we use the Golden Gate Bridge two or three times a year, how will I pay my toll when they stop using toll takers?
A The toll takers will be gone by March. Once the conversion is made to all electronic tolling, there will be three ways to pay: use FasTrak; set up an account and get a bill in the mail and charge it to a credit card; or toll-lane cameras would record your license plate number and send the registered owner of the vehicle a bill.
With FasTrak, you'll get a discounted toll. With the other methods, you won't get a discount.
Q Here's an SF Muni question for ya. In the tunnel between the Castro and West Portal stations, the trains go very, very slowly, even when it seems clear there is no traffic ahead. Why? There seems to be no problem getting up to speed in other areas of the underground between stops.
A The tunnel between the Castro and West Portal stations is the Twin Peaks Tunnel. The reason for the slower speed is the portion of track within the tunnel called the Eureka Curve wears faster than straight track.
Last year, Muni imposed a "slow order" through the Eureka Curve from 25/27 mph to 15 mph. This was done in conjunction with the plan to replace the rail at this point this year. Once work is complete and testing has been done this fall, Muni will consider raising the speed limit back to 25-27 mph.
Q More on porta-potties at airports. The park-and-call at SFO has one. And it was disgusting!
A Most are.
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