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Posts from the "Golden Gate Bridge" Category

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“Not a Freeway” — Re-Branding the Excesses of the $1.4B Presidio Parkway

A temporary bypass road, with a movable median barrier, runs by the Main Post Tunnels under construction for the Presidio Parkway early this year. Photo: Presidio Parkway

When visitors land on the front page of the Presidio Parkway’s website, they see an animated pelican emerging from beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, gliding across green hills and blue skies. When the bird lands, you can “Meet Parker” with a click and learn all about the Presidio Parkway Pelican.

The PR team for this freeway project wants you to know that Parker the fictional pelican is “very excited about the improvements the new Presidio Parkway will bring to his favorite national park!”

This “former military pilot” even has his own color-within-the-lines page [PDF] that parents can print out for their kids to fill in. Perhaps that helps distract the whole family from the $1.4 billion taxpayers will be forking over for the next 30 years to build a one-mile freeway connecting the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco’s Marina District.

The Presidio Parkway probably needs a re-branding campaign like this to make it palatable to the public. With the images of birds, clouds, and rolling hills, you can’t really tell that this project is about building a gargantuan concrete structure. In fact, the website insists that it’s “a parkway, not a freeway” with a logo depicting a quaint, narrow road, somehow free of motor vehicles, snaking through the grass to everybody’s favorite bridge.

Screenshot of the banner on PresidioParkway.com

There’s no doubt the depression-era Doyle Drive needed to be replaced, and there’s good reason the design of its successor has been deliberated since the 80s. The elevated highway was crumbling and would likely have succumbed to the next big earthquake. Designed to steer the motoring public around the former Presidio military base, it cut off the national park from the Bay.

The new road will be less of a monstrosity, and the temporary structure built in the first phase has already provided a “seismically safe” road for drivers. Car traffic is currently routed through the first of four planned tunnels via a temporary bypass road. In 2015, both pairs of tunnels are expected to open, and on top of them will be 13 acres of parkland that people and wildlife can traverse freely to Crissy Field.

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GG Bridge Toll Hikes Approved 15-2, Supes Campos and Breed Opposed

When the plan for much-needed toll hikes on the Golden Gate Bridge was approved Friday, the only opponents on the GG Bridge Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors were Supervisors David Campos and London Breed.

Supervisors David Campos and London Breed, the only members of the bridge board to vote against toll hikes. Photos: Board of Supervisors

All other 15 members who voted, including Marin County reps, apparently understood the need to fund rising infrastructure costs for the bridge by increasing tolls for the drivers who use it. In recent years, the board tolls have not risen as quickly as fares for Golden Gate Transit, which has also seen service cuts — a pattern that unfairly burdens bus riders and induces more car traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge district has also cut costs by eliminating toll takers and switching to all-electronic tolling, getting district employees to pay for a larger share of their benefits, and bringing in new revenue by charging for parking at the Larkspur Landing ferry terminal.

But that apparently wasn’t enough for Campos and Breed, who said they wouldn’t approve toll hikes until they were sure every possible cost-cutting measure had been taken, according to the SF Chronicle. ”We have to demonstrate that we have done everything we can before we vote to increase tolls,” Campos said. “It may be that toll increases are essential and necessary, but I don’t know that we’ve demonstrated that.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who also sits on the bridge board, pointed out that the hikes would only “go up at about the rate of inflation.”

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Despite Service Cuts, GG Transit Fare Hikes Are Outpacing Bridge Tolls

As it does every year, the Golden Gate Transportation District Board of Directors is set approve another 5 percent fare hike this week in its budget for the next fiscal year.

But bridge tolls don’t appear to be keeping pace with rising transit fares — a pattern that GGTHD board member and transit advocate Dave Snyder says unfairly burdens bus riders and encourages more car traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge, as the agency cuts transit service despite increasing ridership.

“That’s the exact opposite of what we want to be doing,” said Snyder. “We’re not raising enough money to maintain transit service. We’re cutting transit service.”

A one-way adult fare for a two-zone trip from San Rafael to San Francisco is currently $5.25. That would increase to $5.50 on July 1, and another 5 percent every year at least until 2016. GG Transit ridership across the bridge has increased 6.2 percent over the past year, according to the district’s latest report [PDF].

Meanwhile, the agency is on its way to slashing its bus operating budget by $31.4 million from 2010 to 2020. (This year’s proposed bus operating budget is $84.7 million.)

But since 2002, tolls for car commuters have only increased one time — a 2008 hike that raised the cash toll 20 percent and the discount toll 25 percent. By comparison, transit fares have increased 5 percent or more every year since 2001. Compounding a 5 percent annual transit fare hike (an underestimate) over ten years yields an increase of about 65 percent.

Snyder said the next toll increase is expected to come in next year’s budget, after all-electronic toll collection is implemented, and that the agency is looking to approve future toll increases annually from there on. But he’s ”concerned that there will be pressure to keep bridge tolls as low as possible without regard to public transit. We have to catch up next year.”

The budget [PDF] is scheduled to go before the board’s Finance Committee tomorrow and be approved by the full board on Friday.

Streetsblog.net 7 Comments

Raise Fees for Parking, Not Riding the Ferry

Ferry riders traveling to San Francisco may see rates rise. But the better solution might be to raise revenues by increasing parking rates. Photo: The Greater Marin

Like many transportation agencies across the country, the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District is struggling with debt.

In order to help offset the $87 million poured into a road reconstruction, today GGBHD will debate whether to raise rates for ferry riders.

But there’s a better way, says David Edmondson of the Greater Marin blog: charge for parking, not riding the ferry.

As long as the parking lot is free, this is the wrong move for the District. Charging for parking would discourage driving to the ferry terminal and encourage people to bus or carpool, freeing some of the parking lot for mid-day ferry drivers, putting more people on buses and bikes, and perhaps even boosting, rather than suppressing, ferry ridership.

My very rough calculation, based on the findings of county-wide land values in the Tiburon Housing Element, places the parking lot’s market value at between $48 million and $55 million, assuming 45-unit-per-acre housing. If the land were leased from GGBHD, it would add around $1 million to $2 million per year of direct income, and around $1.3 million in new fare revenue, assuming transit is the primary mode of transportation for the residents. In all, it would equate to around 8% of the ferry’s cost.

Parking lot development [requires] long-term conceptual thinking. Tomorrow’s vote is just about whether to raise the fares of ferry riders, and the answer should be a firm no. Raising the price of parking would have a number of positive knock-on effects to commuting and parking patterns at both Sausalito and Larkspur by improving parking turnover availability for mid-day riders, while encouraging carpooling, biking, and busing, making more efficient use of the lots and the travel systems in place.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Pedestrian Observations looks at how the different geographic constituencies represented by Richard Florida, Joel Kotkin and Rick Santorum have shaped their respective philosophies. Carfree Days says Seattle’s neighborhood greenways program is helping meet the needs of an important category of cyclists: families. And N8than comments on the phenomena in which some cash-strapped places are returning asphalt roads to gravel.

The Nowtopian 5 Comments

Ferries on the Bay

Editor’s note: This is one in an occasional series of reports from Chris Carlsson on the history of transit in the Bay Area.

William Coulter was a maritime artist who also drew for the local press. This 1896 image depicts three whales inside the bay near a Sausalito-bound ferry.

William Coulter was a maritime artist who also drew for the local press. This 1896 image depicts three whales inside the bay near a Sausalito-bound ferry.

There are thousands of people using ferries on the San Francisco Bay these days, so it’s hard to remember that ferry service died out for several decades. Of course the long history of Bay Area mobility is a story of water travel. Whether moving hay into the City to feed the thousands of horses pulling wagons and omnibuses, or bringing the lumber in to build the wooden City, or taking big loads of grain or (by the early 20th century) canned fruit and vegetables to far-flung ports, everything came and went by ship for a long time. But it was also true that most people wanting to go from one part of the Bay Area to another would find ferry travel the most convenient and appropriate means to make their trip.

The Southern Pacific Company's Bay City ferry plies the waters of San Francisco Bay sometime between 1870 and 1900

The Southern Pacific Company's Bay City ferry plies the waters of San Francisco Bay sometime between 1870 and 1900

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Ride Will Celebrate Reopening of Upper Conzelman Road in Marin Headlands

The mother of all views of the Golden Gate Bridge has to be the ride up and over Conzelman Road on the Marin headlands west of the bridge.

On Saturday morning, cyclists get the first shot at a group ride – without cars – up Conzelman kicking off at 9 a.m.   The ride celebrates the reopening of Upper-Conzelman Road as part of the initial phase of construction improvements along the Marin Headlands.

“This is really to say thank you to the bicyclists who have been so patient and wonderful during construction in this popular riding area,” said Alexandra Picavet, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  “We know many people love that ride.”

People will gather at 8:30 a.m. on the Northwest Bridge parking lot, where Conzelman intersects with Alexander Avenue at the north end of the bridge.   The park service will stop auto traffic at 9 a.m. to give bikes a 30 minute head start to shoot up to Hawk Hill overlook where there will be food, some free bike accessories and information booths about the next phase of improvement projects.

Keep in mind this ride is just as tough as ever, even with improvements.  It is steep and not for the novice rider trying their wheels for the first time.  The steep, single-lane downhill at Hawk Hill will give any newbie the shakes.

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The Real Numbers on Golden Gate Bridge Bicycle Crashes

1942857346_8720dd1dc8.jpgFlickr photo: -kÇ-
The Golden Gate Bridge draws thousands of tourists who walk and cycle on the span for its vistas of the city and the sunsets.  Its sidewalks are also a major commute route for hundreds by daily bicycle commuters. And that means sometimes bicycles and pedestrians collide.

Local news hounds have jumped to the conclusion recently that a record number cycling collisions last year – 34 – was the result of the “explosion of bike rental outfits” sending tourists over the span to see Sausalito and ride the ferry back to San Francisco. But a little deeper digging into the numbers may not support that.

First, to understand the numbers, you have to understand the bridge riding rules.  On weekends, pathways on the west, or ocean side, of the bridge are dedicated to bikes.  While pedestrians use only the east, or city-side walkway. Weekdays, when dozens of cyclists commute using the bridge, they must share the east side with pedestrians until 3:30 p.m., when the west side is again opened exclusively to cyclists.

Mary Currie, Golden Gate Bridge District spokesperson, explained that the district keeps cyclists off the west side during the day because work crews use it for regular bridge maintenance. Currie confirmed the record 34 crashes involving bicycles last year, but claimed “attorney-client privilege” in declining to provide details of whether accidents occurred during commute hours, on weekends, the time of day or which side of the bridge.

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