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Building Golden Gate Bridge May Not be Possible Today

Building the Golden Gate Bridge took a perfect storm of political and financial support.

By Chris Roberts
|  Monday, May 28, 2012  |  Updated 9:48 PM PDT
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Fireworks Cascade Off Golden Gate Bridge

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Golden Gate Bridge cost of $27 million back then, which is the equivalent of $1.5 billion in today's dollars.

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Fireworks Cascade Off Golden Gate Bridge

In honor of the Golden Gate Bridge's 75th birthday, the public was treated to an awesome 20-minute fireworks display. The opening act, of a lighted waterfall, wowed the crowd.
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An enormously expensive, environment-destroying, traffic-encouraging landscape changer, needing funding from taxpayers from here to Oregon.

Fat chance, right? That's our Golden Gate Bridge, which survived political muscle and financial doomsaying to enjoy landmark status and worldwide recognition as the area's most enduring landmark. But could lightning strike twice -- could our beloved 75-year old bridge be built today?

Maybe not. It took quite a bit to get the job done back in the 1930s, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

Forces no less influential than the Department of War, the Southern Pacific Railroad, and Marin property owners, all lobbied against the bridge, the newspaper reported. And to get it built in the first place -- for the cost of $27 million, or $1.5 billion in today's dollars -- voters from Del Norte county south to San Francisco county had to be convinced to approve bond sales to do it, the newspaper reported.

Getting a new Bay Bridge built was onerous enough: what was supposed to take seven years and $1 billion has now stretched to almost 20 years and over $6.3 billion, the newspaper noted, with political wrangling and intrigue over the structure's stability to boot. And all that was over a bridge deemed seismically unsafe. What about a brand new structure?

"Critics would call it a viewshed-wrecking, growth-inducing, auto-centric, environmentally disastrous, blatantly illegal, greedy, bad idea," said Marin County Supervisor Steve Kinsey, the newspaper reported. Companies would also be falling all over each other -- and political leaders -- to help out, he added.

"Disney would be lobbying Congress to let them build it within a theme park," he told the newspaper. "Tribes would be offering to finance it in return for just one casino at Fort Point. Every hip corporation would be making a pitch to do it in the shape of their logo."

But there's one positive. Workers safety.

Said Kinsey: "One thing you can say is if the Golden Gate were built today fewer people would die doing it."

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