Eyes on the Street: Holloway Green Street Project

New Storm Water Management Features Make a Safer, Calmer, More Attractive Street

The city pumped some storm water onto the street to test the drainage and permeable surface. It worked perfectly and the water was drawn away immediately. Photo: SFPUC. All other photos Streetsblog/Rudick
The city pumped some storm water onto the street to test the drainage and permeable surface. It worked perfectly and the water was drawn away immediately. Photo: SFPUC. All other photos Streetsblog/Rudick

The San Francisco Public Utilities (SFPUC) cut the ribbon on its Holloway Avenue Green Street project today, which added permeable surfaces and cisterns for better storm water management on an eight-block stretch of this relatively calm residential street through the Ingleside neighborhood.

The project, which the SFPUC says will “collect and treat 1.1 million gallons of stormwater onsite each year,” consisted of digging a trench under the parking lanes of the street and covering it with permeable asphalt. Water is then channeled to large cisterns under the corners of certain intersections. In addition, the city added bulb outs and native-plant gardens to shorten crossing distances and provide an attractive feature for the neighborhood.

Functional, yes, but the cisterns add an attractive feature to the neighborhood
Functional, yes, but the cisterns add an attractive feature to the neighborhood

The Holloway project is part of a larger initiative to do a better job of managing rain runoff from the streets and is the first to use permeable concrete in the public right-of-way. “These projects not only reduce the burden on our sewer system, but they transform neighborhoods by increasing urban greening, biodiversity, and public spaces in the area,” said SFPUC Commissioner Francesca Vietor, in a statement. “This is the future,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan Kelly Jr. “… we’re adopting new methods of stormwater collection and treatment so we can ensure that San Francisco leads the way in sustainability and innovation.”

It should be noted that Holloway Avenue is also a bicycle corridor between the Balboa Park BART station and San Francisco State University. The fresh pavement and improved drainage should make riding a bit more comfortable.

More pictures of the work below.

This corner/blub out rock garden covers a cistern for better storm water management.
This corner/blub out rock garden covers a cistern for better storm water management.
A closer look at the permeable materials now used for the parking lane
A closer look at the permeable materials now used for the parking lane
A wider look at one of the garden cisterns.
A wider look at one of the garden cisterns.
  • crazyvag

    A more zoomed out view of what’s going on here would help. It sounds like water along the curb floods the rock garden. What happens if it overflows?

    Where is the cistern mentioned?

  • Roger R.

    Good point. I added a wider photo (meant to have this in originally). So that’s facing downhill. You can see how water can channel around the cistern and continue down the street if the system is overwhelmed in a major downpour. There’s also a cut in the curb at the bottom.

  • gb52

    Do you know if SFDPW/SFPUC has any intention to make permeable paving a regular treatment when repaving a street?

    Also, is the water actually channeled to the corner and permeates only at the rain garden, or does it actually percolate into the soil along the entire length of the block?

    It’s a great start, but rather than just being a highlight, this needs to be the norm when remaking a street. Green streets should be baked into projects like Van Ness, Geary, Polk, and Taraval, all streets that are being redesigned and reconstructed from the ground up.

    Too much of our streets have been paved over, our sewer system is overtaxed and our groundwater supplies are not being replenished as quickly as it could be. There is so much more we can do to improve the environment while simultaneously improving our infrastructure.

  • p_chazz

    Let’s hope that the plants don’t die and the gardens get filled up with windblown trash. Who is responsible for caring for the plants and watering them during the dry season?

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