Presidio Trial Closure Leads to Large Drop in Traffic, Cut-Through Trips

The Presidio Trust has finished compiling the traffic data it collected during a three-week trial closure on Presidio Boulevard in October, a closure that brought much scorn for the Trust from drivers and some neighbors of the park. Despite the outcry, the trial provided important information for the Trust as the reconstruction of Doyle Drive approaches, according to Trust officials. Trust staff will present the study findings to its board tonight at its monthly meeting, but no action will be taken [PDF].

With the closure of the park's central artery, overall traffic volume at all Presidio gates was down approximately 25 percent. Cut-through traffic was down more than half, representing only 24 percent of overall park traffic during the closure (versus 50 percent in March 2009, for instance). Cut-through traffic decreased at nearly every gate, particularly Presidio, Lombard, and 25th Avenue.

As the study notes, "The total volume through the Lombard Gate decreased, indicating that the decrease in cut-through traffic from the Presidio Gate and other gates significantly outweighed the increase from Park-based traffic forced to use other gates, including the Lombard Gate."

Of the few streets that bore significantly more traffic during the closure, Divisadero saw a 24 percent increase, particularly during the morning and midday hours. Arguello, Jackson west of Presidio, Pacific west of presidio and the Lyon exit all saw slightly increased traffic during the study period.

Clay Harrell, a spokesperson for the Trust, said the data was important for informing decisions that they could consider implementing after Doyle Drive is completed. He reiterated that no permanent changes would take effect during the four-year construction project, but that the Trust now has good baseline data should permanent changes be considered in 2013.

The Trust received more than 700 letters from the public, the majority of them negative. "There were definitely people complaining," said Harrell, though he claimed the decision to shorten the closure by a week was not political. "We felt that we had good enough data so that we didn't need a fourth week."

Harrell added that there were a number of positive letters from people using the park for recreation. "There was a fair amount of support from people who don't drive through, as well as some neighbors just outside of the park."

Harrell said that permanent changes to a corridor as critical as Presidio Boulevard would involve extensive public outreach and formal environmental review.