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FHWA Awards $400M Large Bridge Grant to Golden Gate Bridge, a Vital Transportation Link for Tens of Millions of Vehicles Each Year

by: Jessica Hoover
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded a $400 million Large Bridge Grant to the final phase of a project that will replace, retrofit, and install critical structural elements on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. The grant is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Bridge Investment Program, which is contributing to the Biden-Harris Administration’s largest dedicated investment in highway bridges since the construction of the Interstate highway system.

“Safe, modern bridges ensure that first responders can get to calls more quickly, shipments reach businesses on time, and drivers can get to where they need to go,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The Biden-Harris Administration is proud to award this historic funding to modernize large bridges that are not only pillars of our economy, but also iconic symbols of their states’ past and future.”

Built during the Great Depression, the 85-year-old Golden Gate Bridge annually serves an estimated 40 million vehicles and over 10 million visitors from around the globe, along with providing waterborne commerce through the Golden Gate Strait connecting to the Port of Oakland. The existing bridge is in fair condition but without this project, the structural elements would continue to deteriorate, causing the Golden Gate Bridge to be in poor condition within three years.

The Large Bridge Grant — awarded to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District — will ensure the bridge continues to carry critical freight and commuter traffic by funding the last of four project phases, Phase 3B. The final phase includes strengthening the main span of the bridge, two side spans, both towers, the south tower pier, and the underside of the toll plaza.

Phase 3B, along with the previously completed phases, will strengthen the bridge and improve the structure’s ability to withstand earthquakes and other disasters. Currently, with the completion of the first three phases, the Golden Gate Bridge can safely withstand an earthquake over 7.0 in magnitude, but it may experience damage after major seismic events of higher magnitudes, such as the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

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“In 1989, the 7.1 magnitude Loma Prieta Earthquake rattled the Bay Area, causing extensive damage to the region,” said Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, Spokesperson for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. “Thankfully, the Golden Gate Bridge was not damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake, but the quake served as a catalyst for further study of the bridge’s vulnerability during future seismic events. … Should the next Loma Prieta strike, the bridge will serve as a vital corridor for first responders and critical supplies traveling between San Francisco and the north bay. While the bridge is safe today, the final phase of our seismic retrofit will help ensure the bridge remains open in the aftermath of a natural disaster and will help our region respond and recover in the days and weeks that follow.”

The estimated total cost of the project is $906.4 million, and construction of the final phase is expected to begin in 2024 and finish in 2029. Phase 3B will go out to bid in spring 2023.

"For more than eight decades, the Golden Gate Bridge has stood as a symbol of the innovative spirit of the Bay Area and our nation," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. "The Federal Highway Administration's $400 million investment will help ensure that this iconic landmark continues to safely and reliably serve our region for many years to come.”

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