A controlled explosion from the filming of the TV series "Trauma," on a closed portion of I-280
Mayor Gavin Newsom yesterday announced one of his most ambitious plans for re-shaping San Francisco, telling reporters at a press conference with Caltrans Director Will Kemption and Caltrain Director Michael Scanlan that the city would move forward with plans to tear down sections of I-280 through San Francisco.
"As we saw this weekend with the filming of the new TV series 'Trauma,' we can close a section of 280 and it doesn't back up all the way to San Bruno," said Mayor Newsom. "I'm committed to actively looking for projects where we can transform our streets into public open space, especially in neighborhoods that have so little of it. Show me another project that gives back more space to our great city than this."
Mayor Newsom painted a grand vision of a ribbon park in the footprint of the current freeway and said the city would rezone much of the area for residential development, much of which would be affordable housing, he claimed. "Think Rock Creek Park for the next century," said Mayor Newsom. "If New York City can convert an old rail line through Manhattan into the Highline Park, surely we can transform our outdated infrastructure into green space."
Caltrans' Kempton said that the agency had considered various freeways that underperformed their transportation function after the successful removal of segments of the Embarcadero Freeway and Central Freeway to Market Street, but said that they weren't seriously thinking about this section of I-280 until Mayor Newsom approached Governor Schwarzenegger late last year.
"We've understood that it was possible to make changes to further segments of the Embarcadero Freeway," said Kempton, "but we didn't see it as a priority until Mayor Newsom made it so. Now, we're only committing to study it, but we know the Obama administration is looking for innovative transportation projects, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are unspent federal stimulus funds from other states that we can apply for in six months, a year from now."
"Highway de-construction can be just as shovel-ready as highway re-construction," said Kempton.