Tear Down The Wall
Courtesy of Northwest Environment Watch: The city of San Francisco just opened a six-lane boulevard that replaces the Central Freeway, a double-decker viaduct that once cut through the Hayes Valley neighborhood. That freeway, like the waterfront Embarcadero (which was also torn down and replaced with a boulevard, revitalizing the city’s formerly blighted waterfront), was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the old elevated roadway “served as a haven for drug dealers and prostitutes and casting unwelcoming shadows over the area.” The new road will distribute traffic onto surface streets and includes a “linear park” with bike and pedestrian lanes, plus up to 900 units of new housing, half of it affordable.
San Francisco’s experience should be a valuable lesson for highway proponents who predict disaster if the Alaskan Way Viaduct is torn down - and a model for what to do instead. The People’s Waterfront Coalition has proposed tearing down the viaduct and replacing it with fixes to surface streets downtown - a smart solution that would save millions of dollars, revitalize the west end of downtown, and open up the waterfront for bikers, pedestrians, and new downtown residents.