On Wednesday night, about thirty residents attended the Doyle Drive / Presidio Parkway public meeting at Self Help for the Elderly on Geary. The meeting was hosted by Molly Graham, Director of Public Outreach for the project, and Nadal Tuqan, the Caltrans Project Manager. David Pang, Caltrans Construction Manager for the project was also in attendance. All three spoke while sharing a powerpoint presentation about Doyle’s planned transformation into the new Presidio Parkway by 2013.
Doyle Drive currently handles 144,000 persons traveling per weekday. The primary reason for replacing it is its failure to meet federal safety standards. At least 80% of the current structure cannot be suitably retrofitted so replacement is the only option.
The new Presidio Parkway will also be safer for drivers, offering wider, 11′ lanes, a median barrier, and road shoulders. The new parkway will also do a better job of slowing traffic down as it enters Marina streets.
Construction will begin next month, though planners have yet to publish the final schedule. By 2011, an alternate road/detour will be in place and they will demolish the existing Doyle Drive roadway, mostly over a planned 3-day weekend closure. Once major construction is completed, the new Presidio Parkway will open in 2013 with final work such as landscaping finishing up in 2014.
The team’s powerpoint presentation was filled with slick animations showing the envisioned Presidio Parkway. The new design calls for two tunnels along the 1.5 mile span which will be excavated underground, eliminating much of today’s unsightly, raised roadway which was originally designed to meet security requirements for the Army base. The new roadway does a much better job of blending in with the Presidio’s surroundings.
The parkway design will also offer new exits with direct access to the Presidio. With the increase in businesses and attractions taking root in the Presidio, these new outlets should help ease congestion that would normally be routed onto Lombard or Marina Boulevard.
David Pang, the Caltrans Construction Manager for the project, is eminently qualified for the nearly four year long effort. With 25 years at Caltrans and the former manager of the Cypress Freeway cleanup (after the ’89 quake) and the Devil’s Slide upgrade, Pang also brings a local perspective to the project as a SF native and current resident of the Richmond District.
Several neighbors in attendance were concerned about the increase in construction traffic at the various Presidio entrances at 25th Avenue, Arguello Boulvard and 15th Avenue. Pang assured residents that construction companies are prohibited in their contracts from using these entry or exit points, and that a hotline has been set up to allow neighbors to report any issues they experience during the construction project.
Molly Graham, Director of Public Outreach, said she personally monitors the hotline and has a direct line into Pang on-site. She advised neighbors to “try and catch the truck logos” to help them identify which crews may be in violation. The hotline is (415) 263-5953 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. “You are our eyes and ears”, Graham said.
Few neighbors seemed concerned about the planned closures of the ramps that connect Park Presidio to Doyle Drive, allowing the quickest route between the Richmond and the Marina. Project studies showed that between 5000-10,000 vehicles use the ramps each day. The northbound ramp will be closed for most of the project, while the southbound ramp’s closure is planned for 2010 – 2011.
Graham admitted that the suggested signed detours look preposterous to residents as they take drivers way out of their way, but she noted they are designed to steer traffic to the routes that can best handle increased volume. She likened them to the routes that a visiting Winnebago would take, rather than the neighborhood streets that most residents would turn to for their alternate route.
Once construction kicks off, there will be a public information office on-site in the Presidio, offering information, answering questions, and even giving tours of the construction as certain phases are completed.
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