Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg joined Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and San Francisco Mayor London Breed near the Golden Gate Bridge Monday morning to celebrate a $400 million federal grant to seismically retrofit the iconic 85-year-old span.
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of four bridges in the nation to receive funding for repairs in the Bridge Investment Program, part of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed last year.
Funding will help increase the bridge’s resiliency against a major earthquake, officials said at a press conference. The U.S. Federal Highway Administration announced the award of the grant last month.
Buttigieg said the Golden Gate Bridge is not only just the most recognizable bridges and “one of the cathedrals of American landscape,” but that the bridge plays a vital role of moving people and goods across the region.
The bridge withstood the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, though the transportation secretary warned:
“If a similar earthquake were to originate nearer to where we are standing, it could cause serious damage or even destroy the Golden Gate Bridge. it is difficult to overstate the impact that would follow if this bridge were not available.”
“This is about safety today if it were one word.”
Denis Mulligan, general manager for the Golden Gate Bridge,Highway and District, said the final phase of the project will ensure the bridge will remain open after a major disaster.
The district said the seismic retrofit of the bridge will happen in four different phases with three phases completed between 2002 and 2014.
Construction of the final phase will happen sometime in 2024 and finish in 2029. 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.”
“There is only one Golden Gate Bridge and we are going to protect it.”
The district also has another ongoing project that includes installing a suicide net, but is facing project delays.