Golden Gate Bridge Visitor Area To Get Facelift

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The Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District has  received a $3 million grant to transform the bridge's southern visitor area  into an open-air interactive lesson in suspension bridge engineering.

The money from the National Science Foundation will "informally  create a classroom on the science and engineering and technology associated  with building the bridge," according to Golden Gate Bride spokeswoman Mary  Currie.

"This will entirely change the visiting experience and make it a  thousand times better than it is today," she said.

The interactive exhibits, tentatively scheduled to open shortly  before the bridge's 75th anniversary in May 2010, will center on a 92-foot  reproduction of the 1.2-mile bridge. The 24 satellite exhibits will include  an exact size replica of the bridge's underwater bases, Currie said, which  are "about the size of a house."

Right now bridge authorities are working with an architecture firm  doing some site planning in the already congested visitor area.

Currie said some space in a nearby maintenance yard might be  opened up to accommodate both project and visitors, and planners want to use  the installation process to improve circulation for pedestrians and  bicyclists traversing the bridge.

The exhibits will help educate the Golden Gate's 10 million annual  visitors on the science and engineering concepts that helped build the iconic  bridge, Currie said, including principles of suspension engineering and  tensile, or pulling force.

Currie said a "dream team" of engineers from Stanford, Princeton  and Duke universities, experienced museum consultants and other local  institutions like The Exploratorium and the Golden Gate National Recreation  Area helped assemble the grant application.

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