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Posts from the "Presidio" 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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Section of Arguello Blvd in the Presidio Widened for Sidewalk, Bike Lanes

Arguello, before (left) and after (right). Photos: SFCTA

City officials held a press conference yesterday to tout the widening of Arguello Boulevard in the Presidio to add sidewalks and bike lanes. Previously, the short stretch of road had only shoulders for people to walk and bike on, squeezing between guard rails and motor traffic. It’s one of the first projects to be funded by a local $10 vehicle registration fee increase which city voters passed under Prop AA in 2010.

Photo: SFBC

Supervisors Mark Farrell joined officials from the SF County Transportation Authority, the Presidio Trust, the SF Bicycle Coalition, and Walk SF at the event to promote the project  as an “expedited safety” improvement, though the road is used more for recreation than A-to-B travel, and planners didn’t face the challenges that come with reallocating space for walking and biking on city streets (the road was expanded on to park land).

“For years, bicyclists and pedestrians have traversed a dangerous stretch of roadway to travel on this route,” said Farrell in a statement, noting that private philanthropists paid for much of the project’s design and construction. Of the $1,120,769 in total, Prop AA revenue underwrote $350,000, and $750,000 came from other sources, according to the SFCTA.

“Not only have we managed to expedite the delivery of this important safety project thanks to Prop AA,” said Farrell, “but we’ve also done so by bringing together a federal agency, private philanthropy, and public dollars — a truly creative and collaborative approach to meeting the needs of San Francisco residents.”

There does seem to be a missed opportunity with the design of the bike lanes. The lack of driveways and car parking seems to provide prime conditions for raised, protected bike lanes on a curb, rather than painted bike lanes on the roadway.

Still, the SF Bicycle Coalition noted it’s “one more link in better biking and a crucial connector to the Golden Gate Bridge.”

Supervisor Farrell sits with Walk SF’s Nicole Schneider (left) and others as Presidio Trust Executive Director Craig Middleton speaks. Photo: Charity Vargas Photography

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Presidio Launches Temporary Street Closure and Traffic Calming Study

IMG_0373.jpgPresidio Boulevard. Photo: Michael Rhodes
In an effort to make the Presidio function less like a traffic shortcut and more like a national park, the Presidio Trust is trying out an idea that's caught on in the dense city that borders it: a trial street closure. From today until October 27, Presidio Boulevard will be closed to private automobiles between West Pacific Avenue and Upper Simonds Loop [map PDF], as the Presidio Trust and the MTA study traffic impacts. Muni and emergency vehicles will still have full access.

Traffic on Presidio Boulevard is about 60 percent cut-through, compared to 50 percent in the park as a whole. When the Doyle Drive replacement project is completed in 2013, that volume could go even higher, since the newly constructed Presidio Parkway will have a new interchange that will make Presidio Boulevard an attractive approach route for drivers.

The Presidio Trust wants to experiment with road closures that will train drivers not to use routes through the park once Presidio Parkway - the Doyle Drive replacement - opens. Planners are rushing to study the traffic impacts under regular circumstances since construction will begin later this year, altering the area's normal traffic patterns.

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Enviro, Preservation Concerns Drive Opposition to Presidio Main Post Plans

1268294616_0236b9e3e0.jpgFlickr photo: 2composers
Revised plans for the Main Post of San Francisco’s Presidio national park, which include construction of a contemporary art museum for the collection of billionaire businessman Donald Fisher, are still unsatisfactory, say many preservationists, environmentalists, and neighbors who attended a hearing on the new plans Tuesday night.  Despite the fact that the museum plans have been scaled down since their original release to the public and the National Park Service, they could, in fact, lead to a lawsuit to stop the project from moving forward.

In addition to Fisher’s proposed Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio (the CAMP), the seven-member governing body for the park, the Presidio Board of Trustees, has tentatively approved a Heritage Center in what is now the Officers Club, a 129-room hotel called the Presidio Park Lodge in one of the barracks, and an expansion of the Presidio Theatre, all at the Main Post.  It has already adopted plans for the Walt Disney Family Museum for the Main Post.

According to Presidio Executive Director Craig Middleton, the organizing theme of the altered Main Post will be sustainability, with the use of reclaimed water for landscaping, the improvement of PresidiGo shuttle for transportation around the entire park, the installation of permeable surfaces to reduce runoff, and photovoltaic panels on buildings.

However, the attractions are expected to bring many people by private automobile.  The plans for the rebuild of Doyle Drive, the six-lane state highway that links the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marina District, include the addition of a seventh lane from Veterans Boulevard to Girard Road in the Presidio, which leads to the Main Post.  The off-ramp to Girard is intended to divert traffic now bound for the Main Post away from the nearby neighborhoods where drivers currently have to meander through the Marina or Cow Hollow to get back into the Presidio.

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