Thursday, August 30, 2007

Octavia and Oak: city's most dangerous intersection

The Chronicle's John King calls Octavia Blvd. "wonderfully urbane"; HVNA's Paul Olsen calls it a "beautiful boulevard"; Supervisor Mirkarimi called it "a gateway to a new template," which, no matter how you interpret it, was meant as praise; the late Patricia Walkup called it "an amazing gift for the neighborhood"; Jeanne Alexander compared it to the Champs d'Elysee; and the head on a Rachel Gordon 2005 piece in the Chronicle called it "the boulevard of dreams." Boulevard of fantasy is more like it, since all these folks, after fighting so hard to get rid of the Central Freeway overpass, desperately want to believe what's taken its place is better.

Hard to believe they're talking about the revamped, six-lane Octavia Blvd. that opened two years ago, replacing the Central Freeway overpass that used to go over the Hayes Valley neighborhood. Octavia Blvd. now performs the same function the Central Freeway used to perform---feeding eastbound city traffic from Oak St. to the freeway and moving westbound traffic to Fell Street---except that the traffic---45,000 cars a day, according to DPT---is now on a surface street in the middle of the neighborhood, not on an overpass.

It should thus come as no surprise that the Boulevard of Dreams is now the location---at Oak and Octavia---of the most dangerous intersection in San Francisco:

Oak Street and Octavia Boulevard topped the list of dangerous intersections, with 14 injury collisions reported in 2006---12 more than the year before. Officials point to the opening of the six-lane Octavia Boulevard and associated ramps feeding onto and off of the rebuilt Central Freeway, which was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, as a big part of the problem at that intersection. More cars and congestion in that area have resulted in more accidents ("S.F. spike in fatal accidents brings crackdown on safety violations," Rachel Gordon, SF Chronicle, August 23, 2007)

The second most dangerous intersection in the city? At Gough and Market Streets, a block away from the Boulevard of Dreams.

Think traffic is bad in that area now? The same folks who are telling us how great the new Octavia Blvd. is are pushing the Market/Octavia Plan, which will mean 6,000 new housing units and 10,000 new residents in that already densely-populated part of the city, including 40-story highrises in the Market/Van Ness area. That the Market/Octavia Plan will actually discourage developers from providing adequate parking spaces for all those new housing units will be the crowning bit of bad planning for that neighborhood. Not to mention UC's greed-driven proposal, supported by the city, to put 450 new housing units---and a thousand more people---on the old extension property a block away from the Boulevard of Dreams.

All of this is being brought to you by our "progressive" Board of Supervisors.

For a chronological account of how this planning fiasco unfolded, click on "Octavia Blvd." at the end of this item.

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