Bicyclists were greeted with the good news today that the Golden Gate Bridge's western sidewalk will reopen on Sept. 10 -- two weeks ahead of schedule.
However, a few days after that, part of the eastern sidewalk will close, meaning pedestrians won't be able to cross the bridge in its entirety for several months.
The western sidewalk was closed May 31 to make way for seismic retrofitting work, and was scheduled to reopen at the end of September, but the work was finished early, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District officials said.
During the closure, bicyclists and pedestrians shared the eastern sidewalk, which created congestion and some confusion among bridge travelers.
Starting Sept. 10, bicyclists will be allowed to use the western sidewalk 24/7 while the retrofit construction shifts to the eastern side, district spokeswoman Mary Currie said.
Bicyclists using the western sidewalk will be asked to be especially cautious on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. when workers are painting the bridge's cables and performing other activities, Currie said.
That includes walking their bikes through a 400-foot section at mid-span where scaffolding reduces the sidewalk width to six feet and slowing down around maintenance equipment and crews, Currie said.
The eastern sidewalk will partially close on Sept. 13 through mid-January while seismic retrofit construction occurs along a 300-foot section on that side of the bridge.
During that four-month period, pedestrians, joggers, people with disabilities and others using the eastern sidewalk will be able to access only parts of the bridge, Currie said.
Because the western sidewalk will only be available to maintenance crews and bicyclists, pedestrians won't be able to completely cross the bridge from one side to the other during that time, Currie said.
Pedestrians entering the south end of the bridge from San Francisco will find that the sidewalk will be open for about 1.4 miles -- a stretch that includes most of the bridge, including both towers, Currie said.
For those entering the eastern sidewalk from the north end of the bridge on the Marin County side, the sidewalk will be open for about 700 feet to the south for viewing, Currie said.
Two of three phases of the Golden Gate Bridge seismic retrofit project have been completed. The entire project will allow the bridge to withstand an 8.3-magnitude earthquake, district officials said.
The final phase of the project is expected to go to construction bids in 2013 and take three and a half years to complete.