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07 May 2014

A campaign to reduce speeds on the Golden Gate Bridge by sending 15 race cars over the span toting "I Can Drive 45" placards slowed traffic to a crawl yesterday Autel Maxivideo MV301, infuriating some motorists.

The problem was one in a string of mishaps that turned the commute to San Francisco into an ordeal for thousands. Malfunctioning meter lights on the Bay Bridge exacerbated an already-bad commute.

The race car stunt, which began at 10:30 a.m., was an attempt to illustrate the importance of driving slowly on the treacherous span and to promote this weekend's NASCAR races at Sears Point Raceway .

The idea was to emphasize to motorists that if a race car capable of going 200 mph can drive only 45, so can the average commuter. Traffic, however, wound up going closer to zero when the race cars, two pace cars, three American Automobile Association tow trucks and their California Highway Patrol escorts hit the bridge.

"It was a mess," said a bridge toll officer. "Half of the customers driving across the bridge were angry, and the other half were just bewildered. Nobody knew why they were doing this."

The toll officer said traffic usually clears on the bridge around 10:30 a.m., but the race cars distracted drivers who slowed down to look at them. Almost every motorist stopped at the toll gate to ask what was going on, which also caused delays. Bridge officials said an accident inside the Waldo Tunnel earlier in the morning may have contributed to the abnormally high volume of traffic.

"The whole theme was around safety on the bridge. We're sorry if some people were inconvenienced. That was not our intent, " said Golden Gate Bridge District spokeswoman Mary Currie .

Bridge district officials, struggling to improve safety amid a daily crush of automobile traffic, recently expressed outrage when a group of environmentalists, including actor Woody Harrelson , climbed on the bridge towers and created a similar delay.

Also yesterday morning, malfunctioning meter lights on the Bay Bridge worsened an already- bad situation Autel MaxiSys MS908. Earl Sherman , a spokesman for Caltrans, said a computer problem caused the lights to blink too slowly, causing traffic to back up all the way to Interstate 580.

That problem came on the heels of a power failure before dawn that shut off all the lights on the Bay Bridge.

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