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SF Central Freeway demolition begins

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  • 3/31 SF Examiner
    Published Monday, March 31, 2003, in the San Francisco Examiner Freeway be gone By Adriel Hampton Of The Examiner Staff Up on the dead quiet Fell Street
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2003
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      Published Monday, March 31, 2003, in the San Francisco Examiner

      Freeway be gone

      By Adriel Hampton
      Of The Examiner Staff

      Up on the dead quiet Fell Street off-ramp, in a post-apocalyptic
      moment out of Mad Max, a man was walking his Labrador retriever.
      Below, in the deep shade, hundreds of activists partied in anti-
      asphalt ecstasy.

      The freeway is coming down.

      Mayor Willie Brown took the first swing of a golden hammer at one of
      the massive concrete buttresses, leaving a nick in the paint.

      The crowd used the occasion to chant for peace as the news cameras
      turned to capture the mayor's John Henry moment.

      In the next six months, CalTrans' sledges will bring down the tons of
      concrete and asphalt, the last of the Central Freeway west of Market.
      Over the next three years, CalTrans and city workers will turn
      Octavia into a six-lane, tree-lined drive.

      The freeway will touch down on Market Street and builders will add
      hundreds of new apartments to Hayes Valley.

      Land sales and state transportation funds will fund the $74 million
      transformation.

      For drivers, the massive project -- and 40,000 motorists a day forced
      to take different routes -- may mean more-crowded surface streets and
      longer commutes. Alternate routes and transit alternatives are
      highlighted at www.octaviacentral.org.

      Drivers might be frustrated, but for the neighborhood activists who
      took down the concrete behemoth, the moment was pure joy. Brown told
      how Democratic Party activists Sue Bierman, a former supervisor, and
      Jane Morrison, now chair of the local chapter of the Democrats, had
      engaged him at the beginning of his quest for the state assembly in
      the early 1960s in the campaign to keep the Central Freeway from
      extending to Golden Gate Park.

      "As outgoing mayor, I intend to take this crap with me," Brown said,
      minutes before taking his swing at the ramp.

      San Francisco's top pols came out to kiss the ramp goodbye, along
      with representatives of dozens of neighborhood, environmental and
      political groups. Event emcee Michael Krasny of KQED radio heralded
      the campaign to oust the freeway as the first to bring together the
      Tenants Union and the San Francisco Apartment Association, normally
      staunch foes.

      "This spot hasn't seen sunshine for 40 years," said activist Robin
      Levitt, as spring heat blew through the assembly crowd. "We're going
      to have some sunshine down here."
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