Doyle Drive closure expected to snarl traffic in parts of Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The closure of Doyle Drive is expected to cause major traffic backups, not just in San Francisco on streets leading to the Golden Gate Bridge, but also in the North and East Bay, as drivers try to navigate around the three-day closure.

Crews will replace the temporary S-shaped road with a new thoroughfare connecting the two sets of tunnels.

The new Presidio Parkway has seismic improvements over the old Doyle Drive, and eventually will be covered with 10 acres of green space connecting the Presidio and Crissy Field.

The closure won't be easy on drivers. About 100,000 vehicles travel on Doyle Drive every weekday.

Friday's commute could be chaotic. Despite warning signs that have been up for weeks, drivers might not be prepared for traffic delays that could add hours to their travel time. .

"Especially on Friday which is a commute day, if they don't have to use the roads, avoid the whole corridor, avoid the Golden Gate Bridge, take the ferry or take the Bay Bridge," said Molly Graham, the Presidio Parkway Project spokeswoman.

The main detour is the 19th Avenue/Highway 1 corridor through the Richmond District.

The Golden Gate Bridge will remain open, but there will be lane closures as district crews make some modifications to the bridge.

"In addition to the new alignment on Doyle Drive you will see some changes in striping at the toll plaza," said Ewa Bauer, Chief Engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge District.

The north and south visitor parking lots at the Golden Gate Bridge will be closed. That means no cars, no tour buses, and no Muni bus service will be allowed through that area. The concessions will be open and pedestrians and bicyclists will be allowed on the bridge.

The Presidio Project spokeswoman says the rain Thursday night won't set back the construction crews, who will have to work quickly to complete the project by 5 a.m. Monday.

"There's 79 hours of nonstop activity. It will start with removing the movable median barrier, removing all the K rail and then they have to take out the entire temporary detour and start building up the new roadway," said Graham, "There's a rapid set concrete that does set more quickly and they need that for this operation to make sure it can get done on time."

Residents of the Marina can expect construction around the clock this weekend. Some say they're glad the project will finally be completed.

"We've been dealing with that one tunnel the whole time and you know it gets backed up so I'm happy to have both tunnels open and running. It's going to be fantastic," said Jim Jenkins who lives in San Francisco's Marina district.

Some drivers decided to leave the city early Thursday for the weekend to avoid the traffic.

"We're leaving tonight because it's going to be a mess tomorrow," said Laura Swallow of San Francisco.

The Golden Gate Ferry will add service to Larkspur and Sausalito this weekend. Golden Gate Transit buses will be running, although passengers should check the schedules, as some stops will be eliminated due to the construction.