SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - San Francisco's new, temporary approach to the Golden Gate Bridge opened on schedule Monday morning, and traffic was flowing again before dawn.
Traffic between San Francisco and Marin County was snarled over the weekend, after officials closed the old Doyle Drive approach and demolished the seismically unsafe roadway. The sight of the old skyway coming down drew spectators to the Marina District, as motorists opted to take Highway 1 or the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
The temporary bypass opened shortly before 5 a.m. Monday. That roadway will stay in place while crews construct a permanent, $1.1 billion replacement for Doyle Drive, which had carried motorists since 1936. The planned Presidio Parkway project will stretch 1.6 miles and include two tunnels.
Crews now have to get rid of the more than 65,000 tons of debris from the old roadway. Caltrans spokeswoman Molly Graham said a mobile processing plant will be brought in to separate the concrete from the steel.
"There's a lot of debris out here. It looks somewhat surreal. Slowly but surely it will be broken up and taken away. It looks like a very strange landscape," she said.
The concrete will get recycled into road bed while the steel will get melted down for other purposes. The entire clean up process should take several months to complete.
Also 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.
Drivers should expect some delays, as commuters adjust to the new roadway, Graham said.
"Whenever there is a new roadway there is an adjustment period so we do expect some delays," Graham said. "We ask people to be patient and aware."
Caltrans officials warned drivers to stay away from the Golden Gate Bridge area as much as possible over the weekend, and drivers seemed to heed the warnings. Traffic on Saturday was about 50 percent below the usually daily average of around 110,000 to 115,000, according to Golden Gate Bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie.
"The Bay Area was super cooperative," Graham said, noting that the light traffic made it easier to complete the project on time.
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