I recently attended Supervisor Gordon Mar’s virtual town hall meeting on the future of the Upper Great Highway, and cannot express my level of dismay over what became apparent: as far as the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) is concerned, one of the three north-south corridors through the west side of the City will be permanently closed to cars, with millions if not tens of millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to try to address the dozens of unsolvable collateral problems that the permanent closure needlessly creates.
The meeting ostensibly was for SFCTA to present and discuss various possibilities for the Upper Great Highway’s future, but it was the most biased, agenda-driven presentation I have ever witnessed, and it quickly became clear that from SFCTA’s perspective – the permanent closure option – is fete accompli.
The plan is to close the Upper Great Highway permanently and try to divert all north-south traffic to the two remaining arteries traversing the west side of the City: 19th Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. The bulk of the meeting was spent discussing the numerous problems that this plan will create (the inevitable increased heavy traffic through residential streets, for example, and the many negative results of adding additional significant traffic to the already impacted 19th Avenue and Sunset Boulevard) and the expensive ways SFCTA might then try to address the problems. And the first order of business, to no one’s surprise, will be a series of “studies” to assess the issues, which, history shows, tend to cost millions of dollars.
“Why are all of these headaches for westside residents and costs to taxpayers being created?” one might wonder.
Supposedly, it’s to preserve permanently this two-mile stretch of road as a recreation area. Taking that explanation at face value, on any nice day since the pandemic-closure, you will find a good number of folks enjoying themselves on the Upper Great Highway, which is a nice thing, to be sure. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s a relatively small number of people, many of whom, while taking advantage of the closure, do not want it to be permanent.
Spending millions of taxpayer dollars and creating uncountable major aggravations and inconveniences for so many more San Franciscans is not worth it, particularly given that there already are walking/biking paths on both sides of the Great Highway, and that it’s surrounded by many wonderful alternative places to recreate (Golden Gate Park, the beach, Lake Merced, and Fort Funston).
Bear in mind too that now come the winter months, and having a desolate Upper Great Highway serves zero purpose, other than to inconvenience people and force them to drive out of their way, thus being in their cars longer and burning gas (something that also is true at night, year-round).
What is driving this horrible agenda? I honestly don’t know. The pre-pandemic use of the Upper Great Highway worked wonderfully for everyone. An eventual return to that status quo creates no new problems and costs no taxpayer dollars. The permanent closure that the SFCTA seeks, on the other hand, creates dozens of new issues, which results in millions of dollars then being spent to try to mitigate the problems the action produced, and forces people to spend significantly longer amounts of their valuable time driving in their cars. Stop this insanity now.
Categories: Upper Great Highway