Open the Great Highway!
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The closure of the Great Highway impacts many residents of San Francisco, whose voices continue to be diminished and ignored. This closure has created major traffic congestion, while also decreasing livability and quality of life in the Outer Richmond and surrounding areas. The Great Highway was shut down to cars without vote, warning, or any consideration for the people who may be impacted by this closure. According to D4 mobility study completed by SFCTA, on a given Saturday, more than 19,000 vehicles used the Great Highway, while during the week the average was 17,000-19,000 (pre-Covid). That is more than 17,000 cars to be pushed through residential neighborhoods. The band-aid solutions which have been provided thus far - the additional stop signs, speed humps, and traffic diversion remedies - are not working. Leaving and returning to San Francisco has now become a logistical nightmare. The truth is this: people need cars for their daily lives, and this is not going to change. A great number of our cherished San Francisco population cannot get around without vehicles - senior citizens, people with physical disabilities, families, people who work South of San Francisco, and more.
This closure was initiated as part of the city’s COVID-19 response, and is no longer needed. Even now, money continues to be funneled towards efforts that try in vain to mitigate the current overflow. Just this month, the SFMTA, along with Supervisor Gordon Mar, SF Rec and Parks, SFCTA, and SFPD announced additional strategies to address safety concerns on the streets impacted by traffic. Residents in surrounding areas are fed up and angry.
According to a District 4 mobility study, goals include to:
- improve health and safety
- increase livability
- support a thriving local economy
- address climate change locally
These goals mainly benefit the residents of D4, specfically Outer Sunset and Parkside residents. For other residents, these goals are absolutely not being met! Health and safety is not improved, with angry and frustrated residents trying to reach their own homes or other destinations. Livability is decreased, as frustration and anger continues to mount as increased gridlock and speeding cars are now the norm in our once peaceful neighborhoods. This does not address climate change, as cars sit idling in traffic, expelling exhaust and brake fluid into the environment. Safety should be of main concern, especially for residents who reside in mitigation areas and side streets, as well as for residents who may need to leave the city quickly in cases of a natural disaster.
Additionally, this closure conveniently ignores an entire beach that could be used for recreation, as well as a pathways adjacent to the Great Highway, and the entire use of 1.589 sq. miles of Golden Gate Park. Covid numbers are going down and businesses are beginning to operate more regularly. What will happen as more people return to work, and children are return to school? The speed humps, stop signs, and the shifting of traffic further and further into neighborhoods is creating more frustration, strife, and anger amongst our residents. Combined with the 19th Avenue construction which will stretch into 2023, many residents are left wondering...WHAT ABOUT US? NOBODY IS LISTENING.
What began as a COVID-response closure has turned into an attempt to keep this stretch of highway closed for recreational use. We need the Great Highway to be open and used as intended - a cherished and much-needed thoroughfare to the Peninsula and South Bay (and beyond). As Covid numbers continue to decrease, and people begin to return to a sense of normalcy, traffic, gridlock, anger, frustration, and lack of proper mitigation efforts will only continue. Band-aid efforts will not stop the flow of cars funneling into neighborhoods, creating more unsafe conditions for residents. While we do acknowledge that having open, car-free spaces for recreation are a necessity for SF residents, creating this space at the detriment of others is not the solution. Keep San Francisco safe and accessible to all residents.
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