Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

End of the road for unloved SF freeway offramp

Expand Messages
  • 4/1 Los Angeles Times
    Published Tuesday, April 1, 2003, in the Los Angeles Times It s End of the Road for Unloved Freeway Offramp in San Francisco The Fell Street portion of a
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      Published Tuesday, April 1, 2003, in the Los Angeles Times

      It's End of the Road for Unloved Freeway Offramp in San Francisco

      The Fell Street portion of a never-completed elevated highway won't
      be missed by people in the Hayes Valley neighborhood.

      By Chris O'Connell
      Special to The Times

      SAN FRANCISCO -- Looking out the front window of Momi Toby's
      Revolution Cafe in San Francisco's trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood
      Monday morning, owner Terry Chasen noticed something distinctly
      missing. Cars. About 40,000 cars.

      "It's quiet out there," he said with satisfaction as his customers
      read and drank their lattes in peace at outside tables.

      That conspicuous silence is a sweet refrain to the tired ears of many
      San Franciscans, who have been waiting for years to see an unsightly
      portion of the city's elevated Central Freeway torn down.

      After a spirited ceremony over the weekend, with Mayor Willie Brown
      wielding a golden sledgehammer, construction workers began in earnest
      Monday to dismantle U.S. 101's Fell Street offramp.

      The elevated freeway snakes a mile generally east-west through the
      heart of the city and was once intended to be part of a major freeway
      system that would have connected to Golden Gate Park.

      That project was never completed and the Fell Street section became a
      loud and dangerous interloper that spread noise and grime above the
      roofs of old Victorian homes.

      Dozens of homeless people slept in the garbage-strewn parking lots
      beneath the road. The exit disgorged about 40,000 cars every day,
      many of them speeding, into a neighborhood that once was blighted but
      now is burgeoning.

      Since the early phases of planning in the 1950s, any freeway
      expansion has always met with strong opposition in this city. So
      intense was the outcry against freeways that the project to connect
      the city's neighborhoods was ultimately abandoned before it was even
      close to finished.

      "It was part of a larger scheme intended to crisscross the city with
      freeways," said Jose Luis Moscovich, executive director of the San
      Francisco County Transportation Authority. "San Franciscans voted it
      down and, as often is the case with truncated projects, it's caused
      us some problems."

      The exit is the last remaining northern section of the freeway
      damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Although other portions
      of the freeway were destroyed altogether, the top level of the exit
      was removed and the lower part seismically retrofitted.

      The offramp served it's purpose for a time, but it had become
      obsolete, says Robin Levitt, a member of the Central Freeway Citizens
      Advisory Committee.

      "We were left with a stub of a freeway that was a vestige of a
      freeway system. We've learned that you don't have to build freeways

      The ramp will eventually be replaced by a more "neighborhood
      friendly" two-lane ramp that exits onto a tree-lined boulevard. The
      new exit will allow for a more even distribution of traffic, with
      less noise and congestion, Moscovich said.

      Plans for the land beneath the freeway include 900 units of housing,
      a park, and possibly a retirement village catering to members of the
      gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

      But in the short term, drivers will have to put up with slightly
      longer commuting times. Rush-hour traffic Monday morning was backed
      up for about a half mile as surprised commuters searched for
      alternative routes to enter the heart of the city.

      Moscovich predicted it could take a few weeks for drivers to get used
      to the new routes.

      "It's going to make San Francisco a much more livable place,"
      Moscovich said.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.