Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Octavia Blvd. fiasco: A lesson learned?

A dumb idea whose time hasn't come

From the SF Chronicle a few days ago:

...San Francisco’s latest vision for South of Market preserves Interstate 280, gets rid of the Caltrain rail yard, and has the commuter rail line’s downtown extension bypass Mission Bay, instead dipping underground a mile before its current station at Fourth and King streets.

A study to be released Monday, after 3½ years of work, significantly revises an idea raised by then-Mayor Ed Lee in 2013 to improve transit connectivity and create a new neighborhood.

That plan called for rerouting Caltrain, and future high-speed rail trains, through Mission Bay to serve the growing neighborhood. City planners also suggested abandoning the rail yard at Fourth and King streets and taking a battering ram to I-280 north of 16th Street to make way for new development.

But the new study concludes that the I-280 ramps won’t interfere with Caltrain tunnels after all and that rerouting its rails to head through Mission Bay would cost too much and take too long, and wouldn’t attract as many riders as an alignment passing through Fourth and King, its current terminus...

Retaining I-280 and its two ramps to Sixth Street and King Street should make it easier to sell the project to residents and commuters who feared that the plan to demolish the freeway and replace it with an Octavia Boulevard-like street would lead to gridlock...(emphasis added)

Rob's comment:
Yes, indeed. Hard to "sell" taking down the I-280 freeway ramps south of Market to anyone familiar with the results of taking down the Central Freeway over the Hayes Valley neighborhood. That put the traffic that used to go over the neighborhood onto the new and unimproved Octavia Boulevard and other surface streets in the area, creating a daily area-wide traffic jam.

The dumb idea of taking down I-280 was apparently the brainchild of Gillian Gillett, who, alas, is Director of Transportation Policy in the mayor's office.

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