Phil Matier: San Francisco’s $50 Million Plan To Fill Geary Blvd. Underpass
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — A $50 million plan to fill in the Geary Boulevard underpass in is starting to get some serious consideration from city officials.
The current underpass is the result of a redevelopment project in the 1950s and ‘60s and some would argue that it was the plan to put up a mote between the Fillmore and the Western Addition Districts from Lower Pacific Heights.
There were critics who said there was a hint of racism because these freeways, or expressways, tend to split up neighborhoods with blacks on one side and whites on the other.
The new plan, however, is interesting. It’s eight-lane corridor that stretches from Van Ness Avenue to the Outer Richmond and now they want to bring it to ground level, throw in an express bus in the middle lane and open it up to more pedestrian traffic.
This is at a time when San Francisco city officials are trying to address the increasing numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists getting hit by cars.
That stretch of road is the closest thing there is to an express way on the western section of the city, and has become more so since the city began tearing down it’s freeways after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Like it or not, people still drive and they need to get to from one side of the city to another but this is San Francisco, where everyone loves a new idea—even if they can’t seem to keep the ones on the table in operation.
Besides all this, they are talking about tearing down I-280—the entrance to the city’s South of Market area where AT&T Park is located. There is request for study to drop the freeway and have more surface-street traffic and make space for the high speed rail—it that ever comes.
With the two-year construction phase expected to start in 2016, the city is still more than $110 million short of the project’s $240 million cost. It would cost an estimated $50 million just to fill the underpass, relocate utilities and rebuild the street.
Meanwhile, Muni is reporting that their light-rail service is getting better—going from a 47 percent on-time rate to a 51 percent on-time rate.
So the philosophy seems to be: never spend money on what have when you can spend it on something new.