Golden Gate Bridge to eliminate toll takers – go 100% electronic

After replacing as many people as possible with robots in manufacturing, the good old toll booth worker is the next victim to be replaced. Starting next year, toll booth workers on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge will all be removed in favor of RFID toll sensors and license plate reading cameras.

The toll collectors had been a common sight on the bridge since it opened in 1937, but the district board of directors decided in a 13-2 vote to save $19.2 million over the next ten years.

In the new system, vehicles can use the FasTrak transponder system, or pay by mail after their license plate has been identified.

As is common with government systems, the FasTrak toll lanes do not work with out of state toll systems, including EZ-Pass and iPass. Also, since rental vehicles are often from out of state, your car rental firm may charge the base toll, along with significant surcharges.

The toll operator does plan to expand the retail availability for FasTrak, so when the new system is introduced in 2012, tourists planning to drive across the bridge may want to invest in a FasTrak transponder of their own or hope that their rental car company forgets about the toll (fat chance).

[Via: Engadget]

San Francisco’s Bay Bridge closed indefinitely

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge will be closed indefinitely while crews repair an upper-deck cable that snapped during rush-hour on Tuesday evening. According to the AP, the broken cable and a chunk of bridge metal fell onto the westbound lanes, damaging at least one vehicle.

The cable that snapped was put in last month to repair a crack that was discovered over Labor Day weekend. While the issue is repaired, other forms of transportation will double up their efforts to keep people moving on trains and ferries.

The snapped wire could be a sign of more repair work to come, though. As quoted in the Los Angeles Daily News, a civil engineering professor at UCLA Berkeley called the initial crack a “warning sign” of more problems. He said the repair was really just a Band-Aid and “demonstrates the need for a longer-term solution.” The bridge is 73 years old and carries around 260,000 people each day.

Roadside attractions along the Pacific Coast Highway

I just completed a whirlwind tour of the Pacific coastline this past week and within a few days I got a taste of some pretty eye-popping roadside attractions along Route 101. While most of the sights I discovered were pretty kitschy, there were other natural wonders that inspired at least one or two ooo’s and ahh’s. While I’d like to say I drove the whole thing, I have to admit that I was only able to run the stretch between San Francisco, CA through Aberdeen, WA. Here’s a little taste of the roadside wonders waiting for you along the Pacific coastline:

Northern California

  • Golden Gate Bridge: A trip to NorCal wouldn’t be complete without seeing San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. While the building of the bridge itself is enough to place it firmly in national lore, many are sadly inspired to jump from the bridge to their death into the frigid bay waters below.
  • Redwood National Park: The towering redwood trees in Humboldt county along California’s “Lost Coast” are truly a sight to behold. At one point, the cars along 101 weave amid the trees.
  • Bigfoot country: While my friend may claim Bigfoot lives in her small town of Ada, Oklahoma, northern California also claims Bigfoot lives here, and the locals immortalize him by making lots of wooden statues of him.
  • Trees of Mystery: If you’re into tall tales like stories about Paul Bunyan (that giant lumberjack of a man), the audio tour along the “Tall Tales Trail” in the Trees of Mystery park should inform you of all you need to know about big country legends. Enjoy a ride on the Sky Trail gondola if you want to travel amid the big trees in the park.


  • Oregon Dunes: The sci-fi saga, Dune, was inspired by these sandy dunes in southern Oregon. The beach along this stretch of coast seems to go on forever. Sandy tumbling down a rolling dune is a must.
  • Prehistoric Gardens: A popular tourist trap right off the 101 is the dinosaur-filled park better known as the Prehistoric Gardens. Apparently, someone thought it was a great idea to create life-sized dinosaurs and place them throughout a forested park for tourists to stumble upon as they strolled amid the trees. A little scary, if you ask me, but the Gardens draw quite the crowd.
  • Tillamook Cheese Factory: The famous cheddar cheese company has a large amusement park-like factory complete with an ice cream shop that features over 30 original flavors. This place tops even Ben and Jerry’s as a must-see.

Southern Washington

  • The world’s largest frying pan: Once you cross the state border into Washington, the roadside pickings get a bit slim. Take a slight detour along the Long Beach Peninsula and you will find the world’s largest frying pan, which is a 10-foot tall specimen of shiny iron.
  • Oysters: The Willapa Bay just north of the peninsula is home to lots of oysters. As you drive into South Bend, you’ll see a sign declaring it’s the “Oyster Capital of the World.”

Photo of the Day (7.11.09)

Nothing is more quintessentially San Francisco than the iconic Golden Gate Bridge — and the fact that it eclipses the moon in this stunning shot by Bay Area resident ohadby makes this photo all the more breathtaking. Add the moon’s white glimmer on the water and the sparkle of city lights in the background and he’s captured night and this place in all its glory.

If you have some great travel shots you’d like to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day!

Photo of the day (4-23-09)

Marin Headlands, CA

has done it again with this panorama shot of San Francisco taken from the Marin Headlands. JR has a wonderful collection of San Francisco shots, some of which have been featured on Gadling’s photo of the day.

Thanks JR for yet another Photo of the Day!

Are you a Flickr user who’d like to share a travel related picture or two for our consideration? Submit it to Gadling’s Flickr group right now! We just might use it for our Photo of the Day!