The California Army National Guard, which has patrolled the Golden Gate Bridge since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, is leaving its security detail on Friday.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved the decision, but not based on cost or the need to deploy the National Guard elsewhere, said Gary Winuk, chief deputy director of the state Office of Homeland Security.
“The guard mission was always temporary in nature,” Winuk said.
A more permanent security system has been developed that includes help from the state highway patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Park Police and Golden Gate National Recreation Area rangers. The agencies will assume responsibility Saturday, Winuk said.
The FBI, local police and sheriff’s office also will contribute to bridge security, spokeswoman Mary Currie said.
Currie noted bridge managers made an aggressive effort to keep the guard.
“We’re not happy about it,” she said. “It’s been an invaluable asset to us. They’ve been an integral part of the fabric of the security of the bridge for the last two and a half years.”
Besides the Golden Gate Bridge, the state National Guard helped patrol three others considered potential targets after the terror attacks: the Bay Bridge, the Vincent Thomas Bridge at the Port of Los Angeles and the Coronado Bridge in San Diego. The guard left all but the Golden Gate in June 2002.
Total cost to patrol the bridges has been more than $13 million, said National Guard spokeswoman Denise Varner. That amount includes estimated costs for 2004.