'Behind-the-scenes' access delayed on Golden Gate Bridge

Scheduled construction work could postpone revenue-raising plan by 3 years

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District is

delaying its plan to increase revenue by expanding concession opportunities that would provide more "behind-the-scenes" public access to the famous span.

The District said two work projects that will take place over the

next three or four years, a main cable recoating and the final phase of a seismic retrofit, will prohibit increased public access to the bridge.

The work projects include closing segments of the sidewalk on the bridge, complete replacement of sections of the bridge roadway deck and complicated overhead work on the main cables and bridge towers, Bridge District spokeswoman Mary Currie said.

The District revealed plans in November to raise money to close

part of a $132 million, five-year deficit by providing interactive visitor programs and activities.

Among the revenue-raising opportunities involving public access that were mentioned was a public tour along the catwalk under the Golden Gate Bridge and other "safe and exhilarating behind-the-scenes experiences on the bridge not currently open to the public," Currie said in November.

The District mentioned the "Bridge Climb" at the Sydney Harbour

Bridge in Australia as an example of a revenue-raising activity involving public access, although Currie said actually climbing the Golden Gate Bridge would be "out of the question."

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is a 3.5-hour guided tour along the outer arch of the bridge on catwalks and ladders to the summit of the span.

The District invited firms to submit qualifications and experience

regarding interactive visitor programs and activities that would allow the District to tell the historical, engineering and cultural story of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Six firms responded and three were found to have the experience and qualifications worthy of further evaluation and review, Currie said.

As we reviewed the proposals and understood more clearly what

would be needed to carry out their ideas, the more apparent it became that the potential for conflicts with two major upcoming projects was high," Currie said.

"Our highest priority and greatest responsibility is to maintain

the structural integrity of the Bridge. We cannot compromise the completion of the Seismic Retrofit and Main Cable restoration with an additional project on the Bridge structure at the same time," District General Manager Celia Kupersmith said in a news release.

Expanding concession opportunities was among 33 different

initiatives that were proposed to increase revenue or reduce expenses to close the $132 million shortfall.

"The scope and time of the (concessions) initiative will be

reconsidered and brought back to the GGBHTD Board of Directors later this year," Currie said.

"While the original concept of behind-the-scenes tours is not

moving forward at this time, we will shift the focus of developing concepts for expanded visitor facilities and services in the southeast visitor area," Currie said.

"The re-scoping will look more closely at what can be accomplished in conjunction with the National Science Foundation interactive outdoor exhibition which is under development now and planned to open in May 2012," Currie said.

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