Supes Vote to Keep Central Fwy. on Track
By Carol Dimmick
The SF Board of Supervisors voted to keep the Central Freeway replacement project on track at its March 30 meeting.
A resolution that would have halted the rebuilding of the Central Freeway was voted out of the supervisor's Land Use Committee March 23 and went to the Board of Supervisors for a vote. Only supervisors Bevan Dufty, Tom Ammiano and Matt Gonzalez voted to scrap the plan when it came up for a full vote at the board.
The resolution, which passed out of committee by a 2-1 vote without a recommendation, asked Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to freeze millions of dollars in state funds earmarked for rebuilding the freeway so the City could explore the feasibility of moving the off-ramps back to Bryant Street.
"My hope was to give state representatives a chance to explore alternatives with Caltrans," said Dufty, who sponsored the resolution.
Dufty's resolution came under fire from Richmond District Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who said it is risky to hand millions of dollars back to the Schwarzenegger when the state is facing a massive budget crisis.
McGoldrick also reminded his colleagues that it might not be wise to ignore the voters who approved the project four years ago.
After the Loma Prieta Earthquake critically damaged the freeway's structure in 1989, it took three ballot measures before voters approved Proposition I in 1999 and work could begin to rebuild the freeway.
"We (the supervisors) are not superior to the majority rule. The voters have spoken at the ballot box and we would be overturning the will of the voters," McGoldrick warned.
The plan currently under construction calls for the freeway to be rebuilt from the I-80/Highway 101 juncture to Mission Street with off-ramps that touch down where Octavia Street crosses Market Street. Work to construct the off-ramp is currently underway and the project is scheduled for completion in mid-2005.
The idea to move the off-ramps back to Bryant Street gained steam after the freeway structure came down and neighbors enjoyed the sunshine and air. Residents who live in the vicinity say they wanted the freeway out of their neighborhood before it reversed the progress that had been made.
"This had been a no man's land for over 40 years because our neighborhood has been dominated by a freeway," said one resident who lives on Stevenson Street.
However, a report released in December by the San Francisco Transportation Authority (SFTA) that studied the implications of moving the freeway back to Bryant Street concluded it would cause massive traffic challenges, delay the project by as much as six years, double its cost, and trigger legal and regulatory issues.
According to the 15-page report entitled "Strategic Analysis Report on the Implications of Relocating the Central Freeway Touchdown Ramps," which was requested by Supervisor Bevan Dufty, the financial implications alone were significant.
The report estimated that what is now expected to be a $90 million project could have ended up costing as much as $193 million if the project was redesigned at this late stage.
Included in $193 million estimate were costs for salaries for parking control officers, additional costs for planning, design, a new environmental review process, demolition, a temporary ramp and construction of a new local street network interface.
Other potential challenges cited in the report included legal complications that could have arisen from the sale of some of the 23 parcels of land transferred to the City from Caltrans for the right-of-way for the Octavia Boulevard plan and the potential loss of millions of dollars in state funds earmarked for the project.