Bay Area NIMBY’s Take Note (Golden Gate Bridge Edition)May 15, 2012
As John King and a reader note: “Critics depicted the [Golden Gate Bridge] as financially unsound, legally dubious, an aesthetic blight and an engineering hazard in the decade before the start of construction in 1933.”
∙ Golden Gate Bridge construction – and indignation [SFGate]
Comments from Plugged-In Readers
that’s true, but NIMBYs also opposed the crosstown freeways in the 50s. So it’s not always that simple.
James, you mean crosstown freeways that would enable a bus trip from the Sunset to downtown in under an hour?
Yeah, those things would be terrible. I can’t imagine how SF would have survived a single day with those.
Crosstown freeways were totally a terrible idea and especially now as the sun sets on auto transport. If slow transit is the problem then fix that. There are solutions. We just lack the political will to create them.
James brings up a good example of how grassroots opposition can be right. The trick is to differentiate self serving NIMBY opposition from altruistic civic minded opposition.
Any large project will attract opposition as the GG Bridge example demonstrates. The fact that some people have opposed a project that turned out to be universally loved doesn’t mean that anyone voicing opposition is wrong. That’s just flawed logic.
Crosstown freeway woud’ve been great. this city sucks to drive across and cars will be the main form of transport for at least the next 20 yrs.
@jimbo – if you don’t like driving across the city… then DON’T drive across the city. I guarantee you that, if you just alter your frame of reference a couple of degrees, you’ll see that virtually everything you need is in your own neighborhood.
The problem with cross-town freeways is that it destroys just that neighborhoodly aspect of cities. Once people CAN drive across town to do stuff, they will, and this will strangle the local businesses that make neighborhoods nice. In other words, crosstown freeways perpetuate and exacerbate (and in fact, often create in the first place) the very problems that they are supposedly solving.
You people sound like you grew up in single stop sign towns in Iowa. Cross town freeways don’t kill neighborhoods. If that were the case, NYC wouldn’t have any neighborhoods right?
Scurvy – What crosstown freeways in NYC are you referring to? If memory serves, you have the Hudson River Drive and the Harlem River Drive (then the FDR Drive) running north-south on the western and eastern side of the city.
Fishchum, those are only in manhattan. Manhattan is to narrow to justify a cross town freeway, as anyone who has ever crossed the gee dub will tell you.
NYC is five boroughs. The Bruckner, the deegan, the cross bronx, the bqe. The grand central. The belt.
Brooklyn, Bronx, queens and staten… Rip Mca.
Yeah, and those freeways blight plenty of neighborhoods too. The major Deegan and the BQE are bounded by miles of grey nothingness and gross polluters and ruined aquifers. Scurvy was didmissive without knowing his topic. Typical of a site that let’s tipster talk so much worthless junk.
I do not see SF becoming a public-transit-only city anytime soon. You’d need a massive investment in a decent subway network.
To ease cross-town car traffic, we could look underground. For instance Oak/Fell could have an underground freeway with 2/3 exits and the surface could be reserved to cycling/pedestrians as we’re in almost flat terrain there. The Geary monstrosity could also be converted. Same for Div’, Van Ness, 19th.
Maybe we could dream of a combo underground freeway/light rail if this were even technically feasible?
“The sun sets on auto transport” ???
Not here on planet earth! The auto hasn’t even seen 100 years of prevalence. And it will take at least that long for it to unwind.
I hate cross town freeways; they totally destroy neighborhoods;
but that’s beside the point: King’s thinking seems to be that if the Bridge was a great idea then anything else is too; by extension I propose to build a giant parking lot in the middle of the city – higher than the Transamerica; the tallest parking sturcture in the world would soon become symbol of the city;
the point is, yes sometimes NIMBYs are NIMBYs and sometimes they have a point; quite frankly, part of the issue is also cost – you may enjoy your bridge but were these bonds ever repaid?
This is pretty good posting by SS. I must admit, if someone came up with the GG bridge today, I don’t know it’d be rec’d well at all. Even I could see myself saying ‘do we really need that there?’
Just imagine some of the arguments against it if it was proposed right now:
– it’s gonna cost way too much! they’ll have to charge $40/car to pay for painting that thing alone every year!
– orange? u kidding me! oh, sorry, ‘international orange’. still ugly.
– the traffic jams it’ll create as people flood into SF will be horrendous. Marina will be blighted.
– it’ll ruin the pristine Presidio and Crissy Field!
– why are we ruining the natural beauty of that piece of land, where the ocean / bay wonderfully intersect!?
Sorry, as someone who grew up there, when I hear “NYC” I think Manhattan.
In any event, as anon1 pointed out, the areas where crosstown freeways cut through the other boroughs are areas I wouldn’t send my worst enemy to.
correct; Robert Moses cut through the poorest neighborhoods where he could;
of course, since no one wants to live next to the freeway, even nicer neighborhoods become less desirable, cheaper & consequently more attractive to riffraff;
If things could be built as cheaply as they could back in 1930, then that would be great. Even adjusting for inflation, the GGB is a tiny fraction of, say, HSR.
Think about it this way – the Bay Bridge cost $77M in 1930’s dollars. That translates to about $1.2B in 2010 dollars. The eastern span replacement itself is $6.3B. Now I’m sure there’s additional technology and safety necessary, but heck, they had bore into Yerba Buena Island the first time, which they don’t need to do today.
We can speculate why things cost more these days, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Things are just too expensive to build these days.
“@jimbo – if you don’t like driving across the city… then DON’T drive across the city. I guarantee you that, if you just alter your frame of reference a couple of degrees, you’ll see that virtually everything you need is in your own neighborhood.The problem with cross-town freeways is that it destroys just that neighborhoodly aspect of cities. Once people CAN drive across town to do stuff, they will, and this will strangle the local businesses that make neighborhoods nice. In other words, crosstown freeways perpetuate and exacerbate (and in fact, often create in the first place) the very problems that they are supposedly solving.”
Hello fantasyland, most people don’t work in their own neighborhood. 1/3 of the professional in SF work on the peninsula, where the most high payiing techa nd biotech jobs are. I do shop and eat most in my neighborhood, but i also like variety. Who wants to live in a siloed box. Cars are here to stay for at least another 20 yrs. A crosstown freewayfloating above geary would be great, and futuristic. my frame of reference is realitic yet visionary. I know the reality of transportation and I envision a better way to ease traffic and make getting places easier
right, and that’s even though the Bay Bridge was actually built in China so what you’re talking about is payments to the PRC plus cost of putting it together.
Of course, each time I drive by there there is at most 60 people working on it;
Isn’t “Bay Area NIMBY” the same as “Bay Area resident”? I have long thought that the formal motto of our fine city should be “Not in my Back Yard”.
Just look at LA to see the logical end point of building more and more freeways to handle traffic jimbo. There are something like 50 lanes of freeways in an area smaller than San Francisco and they are still constantly jammed.
“Traffic Expands to Fill Available Road Space”
People are happy to wait in line to get something that is free, congestion pricing is a potential way around this problem. I could see building a toll way perhaps.
Crosstown freeways “would enable a bus trip from the Sunset to downtown in under an hour”?
No way in hell. Look at LA: how fast do those freeways move at rush hour?
I don’t think it’s hard to imagine what the result of crosstown freeways would have been. They would certainly have made commuting by car easier, but they would have destroyed neighborhoods in the process– both literally and figuratively (see the maps of all the buildings wiped out to build 101, or compare the Google Earth historical images). At the same time, they would have required a much larger amount of parking downtown, leading to less density and less tax revenue. And there would be less political support for Muni, and getting around by foot or bike would be a lot harder and less pleasant, with heavier traffic and far more blocked streets.
San Francisco better off with more freeways? What, you’re jealous of Cleveland and St. Louis? Well, they have one advantage: low costs. Making a city that people don’t want to live in will do that.
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