Roadway Configuration / Reversible Lanes

The Golden Gate Bridge has 6 roadway lanes. Northbound and southbound traffic are separated by a moveable median barrier, which permits the number of lanes allocated to north or southbound traffic to be changed to accommodate heavy demand in either direction, to respond to unusual traffic conditions, and to balance lane availability with real-time traffic demand to the extent possible. This ability to change the number of lanes serving a given direction is called reversible lanes. Reversible lanes were inaugurated on the Golden Gate Bridge roadway on October 29, 1963.

MORNING COMMUTE PERIOD: During the weekday morning commute period, Bridge traffic is predictably heavy in the southbound direction and light in the northbound direction. The roadway is generally configured with four (4) roadway lanes for southbound traffic and two (2) roadway lanes for northbound traffic.

AFTERNOON COMMUTE PERIOD: During the weekday afternoon commute period, balancing lane availability to match demand is more challenging. Northbound commute traffic is more variable and spread out over a longer period of time than the morning commute. Over the last several years, increases in southbound traffic during this time period have created a condition in which reducing southbound to only two lanes creates considerable delays for southbound traffic. In addition, Doyle Drive/Presidio Parkway construction sometimes negatively impacts the northbound commute; this is not easily resolved by changing the Bridge lane configurations. Our goal is to allocate lanes such that northbound traffic is accommodated without introducing unacceptable delays for southbound traffic. For these reasons, the Bridge lane configuration is typically set with three (3) lanes in each direction.

WEEKENDS: On weekends, traffic volumes can often be very high in both directions at the same time requiring a three (3) lane configuration for each direction.