I-280 and Railyard Redevelopment Project Rendering with Caltrain Re-route

With the feasibility study for re-configuring the terminus of I-280 in San Francisco and redeveloping the existing 20-acre Caltrain Depot at 4th and King Streets well underway, Mayor Ed Lee is now pitching plans to re-route Caltrain up Third Street north of 22nd, with a new underground station around Pier 50, a few blocks from the proposed Warriors Arena.

According to the Chronicle, Caltrain’s initial reception to the Mayor’s vision for re-routing the line has been “tepid at best,” with the rail agency noting that it’s “difficult to evaluate in the absence of any meaningful and in-depth technical review.”

In addition, questions about how the Third Street plan might further delay the connection of rail to the city’s new Transbay Transit Center, and possibly to the East Bay, have already started to circulate.

Prior to the Third Street twist, the City’s Planning Department was expected to deliver a meaningful list of alternatives for the San Francisco Railyard and I-280 redevelopment project by the middle of 2016, with a best-case scenario of implementation sometime after 2020 “as money and priorities allow.”

151 thoughts on “New I-280 Teardown Plan With A Caltrain Twist (And Turn)”
    1. You know that Ed Lee just says this kind of stuff to silence critics until the Warriors stadium gets approved. It’s like all of his plans, watered down hot air that will never come to pass.

      1. Still, the utter ridiculousness of this is a level of magnitude worse that what he’s done before. What’s he proposing to do, a cut-and-cover of Caltrain on 3rd Street (thereby eliminating service on the T-Third for *years*)? Or tunnel-boring all the way from 22nd Street (through soft bay fill and mud, and having dive under the channel)? And if the latter, what happens when the undergrounded Caltrain meets the underground T-Third around Bryant?

        Fact is, if we’re going to talk about spending *Billions* of dollars on transportation improvements, then let’s talk about something useful like a Geary subway, or further extending the T-Third to the northern waterfront – not creating an Octavia-style parking lot.

          1. geary subway should be number 1 project for SFMTA. stop spending on any other project and save for this one

        1. I completely agree with your comments about a Geary subway. I still don’t understand how this isn’t a main priority yet.

          1. Maybe the fact that a singular business owner on geary – David Heller – has been holding up the approval of Geary BRT for years? http://www.savegearyblvd.com/index.html
            If we let one business owner derail surface changes for years, imagine what would happen if we wanted to rip up the street!

          2. gery BRT should be killed because its a waste. a subway is what’s needed. spending billions on a bandaid is just stupid

    2. Talk a about “having a wall along the waterfront!” Nothing is as less desirable than garbage strewn train tracks with homeless encampments under every overpass and nook and cranny.
      This idea is a perfect combination to set-back all plans to redevelop Mission Bay.
      To date, this is the worst idea for Mayor Ed Lee.

      [Editor’s Note: As envisioned, the tracks north of 22nd Street would be laid underground.]

    1. You’d have a wall o concrete and steel I tha scenario dropping down to 3/4 story buildings a block away and northward. I dunno if that makes sense.

    2. Definitely a creative artist.
      One proposed blue building is shown taking up half of Mission Bay Park P7. There is an interesting extension of 17th Street eastward bisecting Block 40 into 2 new buildings – and the missing P7 parkland shows up as closing the Mississippi street right-of-way….

  1. If you think you are going to live to either see CalTrain at the Transbay Terminal or High Speed Rail, I’ve got a great deal on some swampland in Florida for you…

    1. If Salesforce is sold and pulls back on its deal to take most of the space in the Transbay Terminal tower will that project be put on hold?

      Seems like a lot of things are in flux now.

      1. I would think that worst case scenario the space is leased to someone else, perhaps at something other than the some of the highest amounts in history?

      2. The Salesforce Tower is a separate building from the TransBay Terminal. True, the sale of the land the Boston Properties finances the TransBay but the two are separate.

    2. Agreed.

      In my lifetime, I like to see some concrete solution to the drought situation, not just cut backs to 75% at some point. Drinkable water is a more urgent matter.

      1. you mean you don’t think we should allow watering of golf courses in palm springs? i cant believe thats still being allowed. breweries are also big users of water for no actual usuable purpose.

          1. yes, but still there is no real utility. drinking beer is frivilous when the state is dying from a drought. for those with our eyes open, its a waste. for those on perpetual SOMA (huxley), beer is needed

          2. Wow. Just, Wow. Unless you scrape the sweat from your body and distill it back to water, I’m sure you do plenty that is, from my perspective, a “frivilous” waste of water. There are probably 100,000 water uses that it would be more useful to focus on than a Don Quixote joust at breweries.

          3. i dont use water frivously. my water bill is about 15/mo. wife and i. short showers, stopping watering lawn, energy efficient diswasher. dont leave water running to brush teeth, etc.

            the production of beer serves no purpose to society. in fact, it creates a large detriment. using water for this purpose during a severe drought is disgracceful

          4. @moto, here’s a few fun factoids on food related water usage I found:

            1) One ounce of beef requires 106 gallons of water to produce
            2) A single serving of yogurt requires 90 gallons of water to produce
            3) A single almond requires just about 1 gallon of water to produce

            Some quick math shows that a pint of beer (I’ll use the typical 16 ounce, non-imperial size) requires 80 ounces (.62 gallons) to produce. I read that some breweries are working towards reducing water used per “pint” to 56 ounces (.44 gallons).

            That means a meal consisting of a nice, 8 ounce steak and two beers requires 849.24 gallons of water to produce – 848 gallons for the steak alone.

            I consider the discussion on the “usable purpose” of beer a philosophical one, typically discussed over a pint of beer. 🙂

          5. i actually stopped eating beef and almonds about 2 months ago after discovering some of these facts. Didn’t know about yogurt, but will add that to the list. not a fan of alcohol and the negative impacts it has on society

          6. yes, im very silly. and i dont eat almonds, although can safely say i was eating very many before. i know the story is complex, but almonds do take a lot of water. i have done my research. i am very serious about the drought and think the restrictions are a joke right now

          7. Shouldn’t eat that much red meat anyway, according to most physicians. You can safely eat other kinds of nuts grown elsewhere. I eat hazelnuts and macadamia nuts, especially chocolate covered ones.

          8. What exactly are you thinking you’re helping with not eating almonds? It’s not like lower demand is going to cause farmers to cut down the trees.

        1. Those golf courses need to brown out asap and if the drought conditions remain, need to be replaced with artificial turf. Or go play mini-golf (which is fun.)

          Breweries should figure out a way to use less water to make their product. Otherwise, those big water bills (and fines) will make beers cost twice as expensive as they are now.

          1. Those golf courses use well water from one of the largest underground aquifers in Southern California.
            The deep water run-off from the San Jacinto mountains is what gives the Coachella Valley a lot of its water. It is NOT coming from Northern California. Ever drive over the Whitewater bridge on your way into Palm Springs? That is local water that is not being taken from coastal Southern California or Northern California.

          2. Ship and store the drinking water to Northern California then. All of CA is experiencing a drought. Wait until the SoCal wildfires begin this summer…

          3. “For now, the aquifer — an underground layer of rock containing some 50 billion cubic meters (1.7 trillion cubic feet) of water — meets the valley’s daily needs, 16 percent of which goes to keeping the roughly 100 local golf courses green.
            But with the ample water supply comes waste.”

            I do agree that the desert communities can do a better job of managing their local water supply, but was just frustrated by how many Northern Californians do not understand that Palm Springs is not taking water from us, but instead has its own huge water supply. I noticed that in both Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert many homes are part of the” lawn buy back program”. The city of Palm Desert will give you up to $10,000 to take out your lawn and landscape with native desert landscaping instead.

          4. anon left out part of that article (namelink):

            “While the aquifer is a key source of water for Palm Springs, the district also pumps water from the Colorado River and ice from surrounding mountains to top up its supplies and stop subsidence in the valley, which has sunk 20 centimeters (eight inches) in the last 15 years.”

            FWIW, that is a 2012 article, remember back when the current drought was just beginning. This is from KPIX5, May 7th, 2015:

            “Sippers in San Francisco averaged 41 gallons a day in March. East Bay MUD customers used a bit more, at 65.8 gallons.
            Palm Springs residents rate as the king of water guzzlers, using more than 200 gallons a day, but that number doubles during the summer months.

            And here’s something to really tee you off. Golf courses suck up more than 20 percent of the water in the Coachella Valley. Public courses are on recycled water, but the private courses have their own wells, tapping directly into the overtaxed aquifer. The green grass seems to go on forever.”

          5. yes, but palm springs should be sharing water with the rest of the state for important uses instead of using fo frivilous things such as watering golf courses.

          6. I would agree to water sharing throughout the state, but there is no physical way to pump that water at this point. I would be much more in favor of spending money on water infrastructure than High Speed Rail. My parents neighborhood in Newport Coast uses recycled “grey water” for landscape irrigation. The golf course at Pelican Resort in Newport Coast is recycled water as well, but the cost of creating this system was only possible because of the affluent neighborhood tax base.

          7. I’m utterly baffled that we’re talking about spending MORE on water infrastructure when the problem is obviously the mispricing of water, not inadequate infrastructure.

          1. Yes, I believe it’s about 7:1 wastewater to product. Mostly this is due to evaporation during boiling, water absorbed into spent grains which is discarded, and washing/cleaning of brewing vessels, bottles, etc. If you’re talking about home-brew, a lot of home brewers use water as a heat sink during cooling which is a total waste and if I understand correctly possibly a fineable offense.

          2. A lot of homebrewers salvage their chill water and reuse it for cleanup and then watering landscaping. Yeah, most of the water usage in brewing comes from cleanup. But you can say the same about any beverage manufacturing.

  2. So this would probably eliminate the existing 22nd St. station as well. I can see how this proposal surprised Caltrain and prompted their “… difficult to evaluate in the absence of any meaningful and in-depth technical review.” comment.

    Overall it might be a good idea since it removes that sharp right turn at 7th and Townsend but then there are so many new unknowns here. Is it too late to twist the Transbay’s train box 90 degrees? Sigh.

    1. Oh wait, after looking at the drawing on the Chron article you can see that there’s an abrupt jog of the caltrain line at 22nd street. If that’s the real plan then this is a stinker. Sharp turns are not compatible with fast rail.

      1. If high speed finally gets completed in several decades the route will change from San Jose and go north to Oakland. Straight shot and not the massive opposition that exists to this on the Peninsula.

          1. maybe not less oppossition, but less money and clout to opposse from east bay people

          2. Perhaps… It would certainly go through fewer super rich areas, but it’s not like all of the east bay is a ghetto that can be pushed around. Plenty of development has been stopped by protests in Oakland, and “stop the fast train for rich people from destroying our neighborhoods” seems like a catchy slogan that thousands would march to.

    2. @MoD, if the 22nd street stop is removed, based on the map, there could be a stop added at 20th and 3rd, serving at least some of the current CalTrain passengers and new passengers from Pier 70 as its built out. Plus, the T stop at 20th and 3rd would be right above it as well.

  3. sure, just run the train tunnel under china basin, can’t be that hard or expensive to build at all. And no delays of course having to re-do environmental reviews and get new property acquisition cheaply. Should have thought of that before building mission bay campus because more than likely you’d have to go underneath all that to get back to the main line.

    1. It’s one thing to move the the rail ROW, but you can’t simply get rid of a yard like that and expect it to still function.

  4. no one commented on the real elephant in the room. Its absolutely a terrible idea to move the freeway at all. SF traffic has become much more congestd in the past 5 yrs, and removing a highly used freeway that goes to downtown is jsut an absurd idea. the removal of the central freeway has added many minutesd to everyone’s commute resulting in millions of hours of lost productivity and lost economic benefit, not to mention constant snarl and increase in pollution from idling cars. to do it in hayes valley is one thing, but to take away the key route to getting to downtown SF is patently ridiculous

    1. if there was a way to “like” a comment I would like yours to the 100s
      Central Freeway shortening has created traffic and pollution along Octavia and added much longer commute times for western part of city. I give that Hayes Valley is now more pleasant, but cutting 280 short and dumping people into the labyrinth north of Potrero Hill and expecting a smooth transition from SOMA into Fidi is pure insanity. Like to see what happens with a Giants game happening at ATT Park without I280
      Who thinks (or doesn’t) think of this idiot idea?

      1. by the way, jsut so people know, there are other “improvements” being suggested to OCtavia. The bike fascists are saying its too much like a free entrance (DUH!) and they want page eastbound to octavia closed off to cars, and a lane removed from Oak for cars. in addition, they want the rest of the central freeway torn down. the SFMTA is considering some of these proposals (might be good for socketsite to run a piece on this). If they were to take these recommendations from the elitist white male ages 22-45 year old cyclists who represent 3.5% of commuters, it would absolutely increase congestion, snarl and pollution for the other 96.5%

        this hijacking of city policy and cronyism is just too much.

          1. which lies? BS is subjective.

            good for you to spend your money to benefit lobbying fot the very vocal minority. there are a lot of people in need out there and charities that could use your $10K. Its a shame you would value bike lobbying over those.

          2. Why don’t you really teach him a lesson by doubling down on your hypocrisy and start driving twice as much?

          3. I will try and double it again next year, if things go well. Just for you, Rob.

      2. Let’s be real – you are making the same argument as those that urged the city to rebuild these freeways and build one right down the panhandle so that commuters and suburbanites could get to the GG Bridge faster.

        There have been immense benefits to the central and embarcadero freeway teardown for quality of life in central SF. Not saying this particular project is worth it, but don’t be so flippant that freeways solve all problems.

        1. I don’t think anyone is suggesting freeways solve all problems.

          Also lumping together the embarcadero freeway with the central freeway isn’t entirely fair either. The embarcadero freeway removal was fairly awesome for the city. The central freeway/octavia plan is decidedly more mixed. It really is gridlock, and moved an awful lot of traffic onto side streets that were previously bypassed. Hayes Valley became great, but there are costs too. Some of the traffic impacts were exacerbated by changes to the plan after voter approval, such as the right turn from market to the freeway that was eliminated at the urging of the bicycle coalition.

          It’s possible to want to reduce freeways and also not want to do so haphazardly, or even as was done with Octavia when the plan was changed by various interests after the fact.

          1. I lived in Hayes before the freeway came down and I’ve lived in Hayes Valley after the freeway came down. No doubt, on the one or two streets where the freeway ran, life is better today. But all the rest of the area is worse, at least in terms of congestion and noise and traffic.

            Hayes Valley would have become the same place it is today with or without the freeway changes.

          2. “Hayes Valley would have become the same place it is today with or without the freeway changes.”

            I highly doubt that. There are several thousand more people in the neighborhood in buildings where the freeway once stood. Much of the congestion you complain about is from these new residents.

          3. The *sidewalk* traffic is from the new residents, plus people drawn to the area b/c of its shops and the overall gentrification.

            The *car* traffic, which is worse, is due in large part to the tear-down. Part of that is simply due to cars on the surface instead of an elevated freeway, and part is because of ludicrous traffic rules. (Case in point – even if you’re travelling south *on Octavia*, you can’t proceed south past Fell; you have to turn on Fell, and then try to squirrel your way back to Oak and then Octavia. That adds 2 (if you can use Laguna) or 4 (if Buchannon) extra traffic blocks travelled for each car trying to get from Octavia & Fell to Octavia and Oak… most of it spent in low-efficiency stop-and-go traffic. And don’t even get me started on forbidding a right turn from Market to the freeway. Absolutely asinine.)

          4. I still that the addition of several thousand new people permitted by the teardown means that the place is very different than it would have been otherwise. That extra foot traffic is meaningful.

          5. Hayes certainly became the nice area it is due to the freeway coming down. But there is nothing special about Hayes. If not there, Cole valley or a block in SoMa or the design district would have become what Hayes is today.

          6. most of those people who live on haight or page from fillmore to octavia probably hate it now much worse than when central freeway was there.

          7. There were two stages in the removal of the Central Freeway north of Market. The first stage removed the section that ran from around Fell to Cathedral Hill. That part was closed by the 1989 quake and never reopened. That was the stage that had the biggest impact on the traffic flow. It shifted a big load mostly onto western SoMa, but also measured as far away as 19th Ave. It also opened up Hayes Valley and made Hayes St more of a destination than a drive-through. It also brought more attention to Noe, Bernal, and Glen Park from people wanting to live in SF and commute to San Mateo.

            The second stage removed the Oak and Fell ramps and created Octavia Blvd. The traffic counts on the CFW changed much less from that change than from the first stage. It was more of quality-of-life change at the street surface level from Market to Laguna.

            The impacts of these two stages are much better documented and easier to understand than the Embarcadero removal impacts.

          8. The traffic congestion started well before any of the construction on the former highway parcels even got going. And when they’re all filled, I doubt we talking about “thousands” of new drivers. The real difference is that tens of thousands of cars which used to zip by on the raised roadway now traverse city streets trying to get into the flow of Octavia Blvd.

          9. BobN, were you living in Hayes Valley before the 1989 earthquake? I hadn’t spent much time there then, buy I have read the traffic studies of the before and after quake traffic in that area. They conclude that the greatest change in traffic was when the northern part of the central fwy was closed by the 1989 earthquake. IIRC, they didn’t tear down those elevated roadways until around 1992, but the tens of thousands of cars that had used it diverted to the surface streets of Hayes Valley and western SoMa. And that flow remains a major cause of the street level congestion there.

    2. If you’re concerned about traffic congestion downtown, why support freeways which deliver tens of thousands of cars to downtown? Yeah, people who use that freeway would lose out if it disappeared, but the vast majority of people downtown would benefit.

      1. The downtown you are picturing exists only in your imagination. The rich business environment of expensive restaurants and retail as well as theatres is built largely on dollars from outside of the city. You can’t reduce access without losing customers. The proposals are a house of cards and if followed will be impossible to reverse. No vibrant city can exist without arteries. Lose them and die.

        1. There are many ways to come in from outside the city. Far more people come to downtown on various forms of transit than drive, and if 280 was cut back that number would likely increase (and there are plans to add more transit on the same timescale that any freeway elimination would happen). On the other hand, cutting back the freeway and reducing the number of cars coming in would open up a lot of space currently used for parking and traffic (and the freeway itself), which would make downtown more attractive to be in, countering the negative effects of a reduction of access.

          1. “Far more people come to downtown on various forms of transit than drive”. prove it

          2. you would add tons of congestion and snarl and pollution because you would never be able to reduce the amount of cars by the same amount as the amount that were using 280. meaning you are trying to jam many more cars into 101 and surface streets that will go slower . tearing down 280 would be bad for almost everyone

  5. This idea of Ed’s will go nowhere. With Pelosi out of power we will never get the feds to fund this. The central subway was ridiculous enough. (1.2 billion dollars to go 1.6 miles). Rose Pak wanted that boondoggle and since she is the real power in this town, she got her wish. This new plan will not have her backing. Connecting CalTrain to the new Transbay Terminal should have been part of the original plan for the terminal, not an afterthought. As it is, the new terminal will be the world’s most expensive bus station (and homeless shelter).

    1. Wow, you must have a magic crystal ball. Mind sharing some lottery numbers? I think there’s been too much time, effort, planning, money, construction, etc, put into the transbay terminal and HSR, to just proclaim that it will never happen.

      For the record, I’m against that demolishing that section of 280…and there’s gotta be a way to get caltrain/HSR to the transbay terminal without tearing it down. It sounds like the proponents of this are stuck in a fantasy fueled by the success story of demolishing of the Embarcadero freeway. “If it was a success there, it will be a success wherever we tear a freeway down!!”

      1. @cfb: no offense, but have you been out to lunch on transit projects? The Caltrain extension has been pushed back another decade because the funds are going to help pay the cost overruns of the TTC. HSR is at least a generation away, if it ever happens, because support is dying and no one seems to know where to find $40B (in 2012 dollars). Come on, there isn’t any plans or funding to even build a 1-block pedestrian tunnel to link the TTC with the Market St. subway. That being said, JamesJr is completely on point by saying the TTC will be the world’s most expensive bus station and homeless camp.

        1. Hopefully, foreign money and interest will ultimately bring HSR to fruition in the US based upon economic opportunity. Never will dawn on the Americans.

  6. Nice to know the mayor has a rich fantasy life, a little too rich for the taxpayers and not much chance of a real world life for the fantasy.
    It would be nicer if he could turn his imagination to developments in the works that he could influence. Such as working with the Warriors to put a Muni train terminal under their plaza so that ~10,000 fans have a 5 minute walk to trains without clogging 3rd St.
    I do wonder how much money is spent on these little fantasies and if instead he would just squash these before they get started: how many more Muni buses or trains could be put in service, sink holes in the Sunset could be fixed, traffic lights installed at dangerous pedestrian crossings, extra traffic officers detailed to the commute crush hours, etc.
    Instead they are spending some millions of dollars to craft plans that would cost billions of dollars, don’t have any level of political agreement, and would have a lower priority for funding than billions of dollars worth of existing unfunded plans that do have broad regional and state agreement. Why?

    1. @Jake, if the city was to underground a station at the arena, I’d toss in the currently disputed T-loop and have the loop go around the arena underground, giving it two stations – one on Third and the other on Terry Francois.

      Add in additional lines (as I mentioned in other threads) rerouted to at least the loop, and I’ll bet this would relieve a lot of congestion by the arena.

      1. Yeah, I think you go in asking for under the plaza displacing something like half the parking, then settle for an above ground loop around the arena with an additional platform on Terry Francois. The underground looks nice/ideal, but the need is for as many passenger cars as possible for simultaneous boarding while minimizing path conflict with the other modes. If it works, then it is only needed for 1-2 hours before and after events.

  7. If Mayor Lee really had vision he would Connect 280 and 101 at Fifth/Sixth street.

    Dumping all the cars on City level stop and go streets makes a huge amount of extra air pollution.

    1. Yes! I’ve thought this for years – 280 could be undergrounded (even as far south as Potrero) and then brought up to merge with 80 at 5th Street. There’s even ample room in between the west (south) and east (north) lanes of 80.

      1. It was studied a long time ago, and the conclusion was that connecting 280 and 80 would make congestion even worse. (Which makes sense, considering it’s not possible to add lanes to the bridge for merging traffic.)

      2. This would cause catastrophic congestion at the entrance to the Bay Bridge. Unless there’s talk of making it a triple decker, I can’t see how this could possibly ever work.

        1. Triple decker would be neat – but the MTC Plan is to add a bike lane on the south side of the bridge outside of the cables – and a “homeland security only” traffic lane on the north side – again outside of the cables. They figure the cables can take the weight if they replace the concrete deck with steel……

  8. This appears to be two tacit admissions: that terminating I 280 at 16th st and dumping all the traffic that used to exit into 5 lanes of King St, 6th St, and Brannan St into a grade level rail crossing is DOA. Not doable, full stop, just go away you clown. The other admission is that as currently planned the new warriors stadium location will wedge and gridlock the dogpatch neighborhood 200 days a year. So, they’re throwing a bunch of spaghetti against the wall to see if anything sticks. Or just trying to create a plausible story so the arena gets built regardless of traffic realities on the premise that at some future date we’ll find $10 billion to underground 3 miles of caltrain. They are getting to spend a million or two (so far) of MTC money on these fantasies.

    1. Very plausible argument, I agree, the arena and an early 280 termination will/would result in intense additional local traffice. Everyone should remember, regional traffic is growing rapidly because affordable housing is on the periphery of the region. More inner-core Bay Area affordable housing would mean less traffic. Nothing else would reduce traffic other than a recession or job lossess.

    2. How does the existence of underground Caltrain change anything? they can put a temp stop at 16th a few blocks away on games days

      the idea that there will be 200 days a year of gridlock is silly

  9. Long term this might make sense. The train would have more of a direct shot into downtown and a station near Pier 50 would fit the densities under development around Mission Bay. However, it does look like an engineering nightmare – but wasn’t that said about the Golden Gate Bridge too? Plenty of rail tunnels are engineered into mud (Paris, London, BART). I’m willing to hear more before passing judgement.

    1. Unfortunately it is not a more direct shot into downtown. See how the railway jogs at 22nd St. I do not see any merit to this rerouting. It might just be a smokescreen to distract attention from the real solutions.

  10. Why not take it one step further. Demolish all of 280 north of Cesar Chavez. Route 280 onto a 2nd bay bridge that connects to 880. That way 101 would feed into the city and all the traffic that is just trying to get from the peninsula to the east bay would bypass downtown entirely. It’ll never happen but at least that might make things better.

    Tearing down 280 at 16th would be a disaster just like Octavia. I was here when they tore down the Fell St off ramps. Opened up some new land for development in Hayes Valley, but made traffic so much worse.

      1. Right now it’s not, but 101 and 280 cross over just before Chavez — so all the traffic from 101 and 280 headed to the east bay could take a new southern bay bridge and all the traffic on 101 and 280 headed into the city would take 101. It _might_ make things better. Tearing down 280 before it gets to downtown will definitely make things worse.

          1. The “Southern Crossing” at Army Street was part of the official plans back in the 1960s.

            However, the real problem is really Peninsula-bound traffic. Back in the 1990s there was a little talk of a new bridge near the SF Airport connecting I-380 with I-238. (Actually, they’ve already built some of the ramps on I-380.)

    1. I don’t get why you think Octavia is a “disaster” – I think the vast majority of locals would disagree. Of course, the extremely vocal minority of solo car-commuters will jump on board with you, as to them, traffic is the only issue facing our fair city. Not, of course, an absence of housing and need for better transit.

      1. I should have been more specific. Octavia is a traffic disaster. Previously I could take 101 between Chavez and Fell quickly and efficiently. Now, the backup at Octavia is so bad that it’s usually much faster to just take surface streets, causing more congestion on those streets. If you were a land owner in Hayes Valley it wasn’t a disaster, your property value probably more than doubled, cha-ching! (PS – I’m not a car commuter — I either ride a bike or take Muni.)

        1. As someone who has lives around Octavia, I’m a bit perplexed by this “traffic disaster” you speak of. Are you no longer whizzing by at 60 miles an hour? Sure, but you can almost always get from Octavia to Divisadero or vice versa in about 5-10 minutes. And as a cyclist and car commuter, I never have much of an issue getting through the surrounding streets. Relax.

          1. I’m not talking about the impact from Octavia to Divis. The impact is that previously, anyone coming up 101 N could get off at Fell, now that’s gone so: coming 101 N to the Octavia offramp is generally a 10-15 minute backup. And instead, many people get off on 9th St and fight their way across SOMA which makes 9th St backed up all the time too. Tearing down the off ramp definitely made it better for those living immediately around the area, but it made it worse for lots of other people who are sitting in traffic that didn’t exist before.

          2. People either have short memories or none at all. 101 North to Fell backed up in the old days too. In 1998-2000 during the dot-com boom traffic was just as bad, and the city has grown by, what, 20,000 people since then?

          3. the bigget issue is getting onto the 101 in the morning. divisadero to octavia is more than 10 minutes as its completley backed up at steiner every day. same for page at haight from fillmore to octavia. the alternative is to take franklin to page or haight and then go right. Also a disaster. It is at least 15 min longer to get on the freeway now as it was prior to removal of central frewway

          4. formidable. the traffic backup was nowhere near as bad, even during dotcom boom. i have been doing the peninsula commute for 21 yrs. what we have now is an unmitigated disaster

        2. Exactly. Octavia is a traffic nightmare, backup, more ground level exhaust, dangerous at times for peds to cross various streets.

          1. Doesn’t the prevalence of able-bodied panhandling men in their twenties on every block of Octavia (near the freeway entrance and exist) bother you?

            I saw a young white attractive female sprawled outside the branch of my local library today. I woke her up and told her about being an invitation for an assault. She went inside the library.

          2. I’m not sure how much of that congestion is due to the freeway removal or the increasing number of people reverse commuting along with the booming economy. When Octavia was built, the economy was nowhere near where it is now. Hayes valley was still affordable! I had a huge one bedroom for $1200 a month.

      2. Octavia is definitely a air pollution disaster.
        Cars stopping at 10+ stop lights make for a very stinky neighborhood.

      3. I’ve been walking the neighborhood for 20 years. Yes, back in the day, you had to dodge the hookers and condoms on the ground, but walking the streets was much more pleasant.

  11. The Caltrain right of way between San Francisco and Tamien stations is owned and maintained by its operating agency, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB). PCJPB purchased the right of way from Southern Pacific (SP) in 1991, while SP maintained rights to inter-city passenger and freight trains. In exchange SP granted PCJPB rights to operate up to 6 trains per day between Tamien and Gilroy stations, later increased to 10 trains per day on a deal with SP’s successor Union Pacific (UP) in 2005.

      1. Caltrain’s response to Lee was about as close as they could get to saying “when pigs fly,” without creating a diplomatic brouhaha between agencies.

  12. How does the existence of underground Caltrain change anything? they can put a temp stop at 16th a few blocks away on games days

  13. The only reason high speed rail terminated or will terminate in SF instead of Oakland is TPTB from SF (Pelosi, Feinstein, Brown and others) exerted money and influence to take the less advantageous route. An East Bay route from SJ north was the other option but Oakland does not have the clout at the federal or state level to compete against SF, Even though the logical choice from a whole lot of measures would have been to put it into Oakland. Which, IMO, will eventually happen as the nightmarish situation of coming into SF becomes more apparent. Lee’s proposal add to the whole mess.

    1. No the other route was altamont. There was never an option to terminate in Oakland (and there never should have been). One issue with Altamount was only half the trains would pass through San Jose and that would make them feel inferior.

      The train needs to go from SF to LA. Pretty clear what we voted for. Nobody is going to Oakland

  14. In 1986, voters rejected a ballot measure to remove the Embarcadero Elevated Freeway. They feared the congestion in would cause throughout San Francisco. Tearing down more of 280 is one of Ed Lee’s best ideas; however, I think he lacks the leadership / will to overcome any potential opposition.

  15. The new proposal to reroute the Caltrain line through Mission Bay to the Transbay Terminal makes a lot of sense for a variety of reasons. A smoother and more direct track alignment to the Transbay Terminal, a new station serving the heart of Mission Bay and a station close to the proposed Warrior stadium. Taking down the 280 freeway and redeveloping the Caltrain yards would liberate over 25 net acres of land for housing and employment and remove the barrier between Mission Bay and SOMA.

    The map shown is misleading and looks as if it were drawn by the office intern! The proposed deep bore tunnel route should avoid abrupt turns and go smoothly from the existing track alignment at 22nd Street under 3rd Street and the China Basin and ATT Park to align with the current proposed 2nd Street tunnel leading to the Transbay Terminal.

    The proposed new route will permit both Caltrain commuter trains and HSR trains to be able to travel at higher speeds than the current proposal that has two sharp turns at 7th St to Townsend and from Townsend to 2nd St.

    The Bay Area should be planning long term transport infrastructure for the next generation just as cities like London, Paris and Shanghai are

    1. Yes but those cities have more regional forms of governemtn covering a huge metro area. The Bay Area is physically a huge metro area but divided into fiefdoms. There should be one transit system at least for the inner Bay Area counties and certainly for SF/San Mateo county.

      The kind of long-term regional planning can’t be done here because the local power structures want to keep their gravy train be it MUNI or SamTrans or whatever.

        1. Too bad there isn’t a large open area within a few miles of the train terminus to place a complete train repair and storage yard, cough *Brisbane* cough.

          1. Caltrain identified an adequate space in or around Brisbane as an alternative rail yard if they eliminate the one at 4th St. Aside from the additional (unfunded) costs to construct it, it would be more expensive to operate because Caltrain would have to shuttle some of the trains that end up at 4th St each night to this yard and then back to 4th St for the AM start.

            All of these additional costs would serve the interests of SF, which has one-third of the Caltrain board seats, but harm the interests of the residents of SM and SC, which have the other two-thirds seats.

  16. So tearing down 280 is such a good idea because 19th Ave/Park Presidio is the ideal model of how traffic should approach a major bridge?

    LOL. Hard to think of a dumber idea than this.

    1. Huh? 280 is not for bridge traffic. Of course some people do take 280 to 6th to I-80 today, and if tearing down a mile of 280 makes them stay on 101 then I’m all for it.

      1. i would love to add an elevated freeway to 19th. would make it safer and faster for everyone

  17. 280 IS for bridge traffic. I routinely drive an extra 3 miles from the sunset all the way out and around on 280 rather than deal with the Oak street / Octavia / 101 mess. GoogleMaps routinely shows anywhere from 5 to 12 minutes less travel time, even with the extra distance.

    Ed Lee’s proposal ought to have been published on April 1st, at least then it’d have been a little funny

    1. That’s sorta the point. Bridge traffic doesn’t belong on surface streets and therefore it doesn’t belong on 280. Those 5 to 12(?) minutes will evaporate by the time you’re at the 3rd light on 7th Street after you came off the end of I-280.

  18. A legitimate challenger for Mayor Lee must come forward. We cannot take another term of this CFO who is driven by dollar signs and is single handedly destroying the quality of life of those living in this city. Am I the only one who is sick and tired of 40 ft buildings, workmen on every single street, homeless tent camps on every corner, filthy streets and ridiculous increases in density?

    1. At least we agree on a couple of things. I want a mayor who prioritizes cleaning up the streets and that does something about the homeless. But my problem with 40 foot buildings is that they should be 60 feet in the more urban parts of the city. That way we get the density required to have better city services. What’s confusing is that we have a city that is so rich and we can’t seem to clean it up or to build infrastructure, and that’s why I don’t like the current slate of politicians.

    2. Agree with Frog.

      I don’t like weak CFOs who let nimbys, lefty supes, and bike lanes dictate how a city is run. Or the useless half of city employees waiting for their pensions. Hitman makes a good mayor.

      1. Hitman is a bit to the right of me, but I think he/she would balance things out nicely. I vote in SoMa, are you ready to run?

        Also, I’m not joking, my polling place is a homeless shelter.

        1. I hear you Frog. Your polling place should serve as a reminder to all SoMa residents about how things need to change for the better now, not five or ten years from now.

          There are more efficient venues in the City to flex my muscle (more bang for the buck) other than political office.

  19. I encourage anyone interested in this subject to check out the Caltrain-High Speed Rail Compatibility Blog (I am not affiliated with that site in any way). The blogger there is an engineer in addition to being an enthusiast, and he has looked at the other tunnel proposal in the past.

    It is clear that the tunnel image in the Chronicle this morning was ridiculous because no train track could bend the way that image shows it to without trains needing to slow almost to zero in order to pass through, which would render the whole thing worthless. Any shift over to third would have to go under established neighborhoods in a nice gentle curving fashion, in which case the train could just as easily cut over at 20th which takes it under less residential properties. Then you have the issue of the station which would probably be about two blocks long, and require a mezzanine level. It could be placed next to and incorporated into the new Giants development at Mission Rock Street. Considering that the Giants drive more traffic on a more regular basis than the Warriors, I don’t see why a new station should be farther from AT&T park than the current one.

    Than you get to the tough part. Tunneling under Mission Creek, tunneling under that massive bridge at Third! Continuing up the street and somehow getting the tracks over to second street, where the Transbay is designed to connect to them from. I applaud Mayor Lee and the city planners for their ambition, I think it is a great idea that nobody had yet proposed- but if they really wanted this to get done when it should be done they should have started on this 4 years ago.

    1. “they should have started on this [20] years ago.” FTFY. The new Transbay complex should have been part of a comprehensive design incorporating a 2nd BART tube, Caltrain realignments, and interactions with the Muni subway. We are one-off’ing ourselves into a completely non-functional transit system.

  20. Is there anywhere in the world where a city of nearly a million people, economic hub to seven million (OK, co-hub), is served by rail or HSR by four tracks?

  21. Relocating the rail lines is definitely non-sensical and not necessary. I suspect the commenter at the very beginning had it right. Proposed along with a station near the Warriors Salesforce property to placate critics of the arena.

    Definitely take down 280. In fact, take it back all the way to Chavez at least. Replace that portion east of Potrero Hill with a high speed underground roadway to Mariposa. They’ve done it in Downtown Seattle and Phoenix and we’re doing it in the Presidio. Given the relationship of PH to Dogpatch, a very natural slope of classic SF streetscape above the roadway could join the two neighborhoods.

    As for the traffic concerns, it is specious to contend that the benefit to Hayes Valley with the elimination of the Central Freeway has not been worth it. To all the motorists using the streets a few hours of the day complaining about a few added minutes to their trip each day, LIVE WITH IT you NIMBY bastards!

    I can certainly understand Caltrain’s concerns about elimination of the 4th/King Streets rail yard as a part of the relocation proposal. Still, it need not stand in the way of developing a new district as part of the freeway tear down and undergrounding of Caltrain /HSR. Build above it as they are doing at Hudson Yards in west Manhattan.

    1. Where have they done this in PHX? Are you talking about the few blocks that 10 is “underground” north of downtown?

        1. 3rd Ave to 3rd Street – 6 blocks – 0.6 miles per Google, not much longer than the Broadway tunnel west of North Beach.

          1. Or, roughly the distance from Chavez to Mariposa. Definitely more than the Presidio Parkway tunnels which are being awaited with so much anticipation for the “bluff overlook” their advent affords. Whatever, I don’t think there is any question as to feasibility from an engineering standpoint.

            The main thought is that the prospect of eliminating of that expanse of concrete in that particular location melding those particular neighborhoods together in a uniquely San Franciscan manner is beyond intriguing IMO.

  22. I keep pointing out the same thing to everyone I talk about this with- If the California High Speed Rail Authority needs a storage and repair yard, and Caltrain does too, there is only one place it can go. And that place is just south of the city limits, and happens to be a big vacant brownfield right along the tracks, and happens to have historically been a large railyard, and where else could it be- but in Brisbane. And yet, the city of Brisbane has big development plans and nobody seems to be talking about this side of the story.

    1. Yes Brisbane has plenty of space though one downside is that it is in a severe seismic liquefaction zone. To be sure any quake that destroyed a Brisbane based rail yard would also knock out the Caltrain mainline tracks too (as well as highway 101). So this seismic issue isn’t as important in terms of recovering quickly after a quake but rather in terms of the capital investment required, both in the initial construction costs and the eventual reconstruction costs.

      To be sure the 4th and King location is also vulnerable but not nearly as much of a sitting duck as Brisbane. Maybe a better solution is to sell air rights to the 4th and King railyard?

  23. The tight 90 degree turn envisioned would really slow down any high speed train (in addition to being uncomfortable for passengers when many would be standing up to get off). You would never see this tight turn in other high speed rail systems around the world.

    1. The alternative plan has several 90-degree turns as well. Buildings in Mission Bay have really deep pilings, hence they can’t tunnel under them and the line has to following either the existing RoW or the street grid.

  24. What is the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B? A straight line. Simple. Basic.

    HSR isn’t happening folks so don’t waste your time and energy on this.

  25. I didn’t see, or missed, the rationale for changing the rail route now.

    The other point that exercises folks is tearing down 280, citing loss of roadway. Urban policy throughout the world, not to mention climat change, requires fewer cars and reduced car-miles. So ignore the Mr Toads and get on with the tear down. It has hugely improved Hayes Valley and Embarcadero.

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