Phil Matier: San Francisco Mayor Lee Pushing Plan to Tear Down Portion of I-280By Phil Matier

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— In what at least one city official calls, “A big game changer,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is shopping plans to tear down Interstate 280 at Mission Bay.

Those who are behind the plan are touting a potential eased flow of traffic in the area, as well as more room for development between Potrero Hill and some of the city’s southern parts. Another idea is to put a tunnel underneath AT&T Park for high speed rail to head downtown.

It’s a complete remake of the southern part of San Francisco and it would change travel times for a lot of people who end up going to Giants games, or the Warriors if they ever arrive in San Francisco. This is more than just putting traffic down on the surface at 16th street, but it would reconfigure the railroad tracks so that they’d run in a tunnel under 3rd Street, past the proposed Warriors Arena, past the tech and UCSF presence and under AT&T Park to the new Transbay Transit Center.

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It’s a pretty dramatic plan, but I’m not sure the peninsula train service [Caltrain] is all that crazy about it, because it would mean losing their rail yard at 4th and King streets.

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People might think it’s crazy to drop a freeway like 280, the main artery in and out of San Francisco going south, since it’s a parking lot on most days because of the heavy use. So how did the 280 plan quietly work its way through without much notice? The plan started floating quietly about a year ago.

This is how transportation deals get done. It starts with a plan; it makes it to the back of the line, while everyone else is thinking about high-speed rail and the Bay Bridge and BART bonds.

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$1.5 million later, the plan has worked its way through meetings and they’ve received a grant to further the plan in a search for federal funding. Eventually it takes on a life of its own.