Nearly three decades after Loma Prieta earthquake, Folsom Street sees new life

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake wreaked havoc throughout the Bay Area.

But nearly 27 years later, one part of its legacy — the removal of a controversial freeway — may finally lead to the revitalization of Folsom Street.

Part of Folsom Street runs in the shadow of what was once the Embarcadero Freeway, which was torn down after a bitter public battle ended in the 1989 earthquake that rendered the freeway unsafe.

Down came the freeway. But, now, Folsom Street will rise.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency on Tuesday approved a series of bike and pedestrian changes to Folsom Street, a key approval in a project that aims to transform the roadway into a hub of nightlife and walkability by early 2018…(more)

Which universe do these people live in? Take a look at the photo at the top of the page and tell me what is wrong with the story. This is a major construction zone. No sidewalk work and no road work will make this safe for pedestrians until the construction is complete.
Why is the SFMTA or DPW or whoever is responsible for scheduling work on Folsom starting a sidewalk or street project before the big construction projects are complete?
I walked past a rather small construction project on 17th Street today and was forced to walk into the street to get around the site and the rather large truck parked next to the site.
How is working on streets or sidewalks in front large construction projects under way on Folsom a good idea or a safe way to proceed?
Folsom Street is a major arterial that connects the Embarcadero with Cesar Chavez. There is a Fire Station at Folsom and 19th Street and two hospitals nearby. All this gridlock in a construction zone will make access for emergency vehicles very difficult, if not impossible.
Enough of this gridlock. Let’s pass Prop L so we can demand the SFMTA limit itself to one large project at a time instead of three or four.
And do not give them any more sales tax dollars. No on Prop K!


“This is going to blow Valencia [Street] out of the water,” said Greg Riessen, an SFMTA transportation engineer.

Riessen spoke before the SFMTA board seeking approval for numerous changes, including the widening of Folsom Street’s sidewalks from 2nd to Spear streets to be more walk-friendly, and adding corner “bulb-outs” to intersections to shorten the distance of crossing the street. The street will also be converted to a two-way, in sections, to calm traffic.

That was good news to the Board of Directors’ ears. As it stands now, Folsom Street is more of a car corridor — unsafe and grim — than neighborhood, they said.

“A lot of the sidewalks are so narrow you literally cannot walk,” said SFMTA Board of Directors Vice Chair Cheryl Brinkman.

And per The City’s recent bike-friendly trend, protected bike lanes will run in both directions from Second Street to The Embarcadero. Intersections will see exclusive bicycle signals to prevent bikes from mixing with vehicle traffic.

Muni transit service is also planned for Folsom Street once the changes are complete, according to the SFMTA, and boarding islands for those buses will also be constructed.

There are also beautification elements to the project: New pedestrian-scale lighting, street trees and other landscaping will be created. And all of these changes clock in at just over $15 million, according to the SFMTA.

The approvals are part of the larger Folsom Streetscape Project, which is sponsored by the San Francisco Office of Community Investment and managed by San Francisco Public Works. As part of that project and the construction of the Transbay Terminal, residential towers with ground floor retail will dot Folsom Street.

Soon, Reissen said, there will be new bars, restaurants, grocery stores and more — a thriving business area and neighborhood for walkers and cyclists.

This project wouldn’t be possible if the Embarcadero Freeway remained, according to the SFMTA, as its removal spurred land sales that enabled that development. The freeway traveled over what will soon be the Transbay Transit Center and near The Embarcadero… (more)

Here we have the Valencia gentrification process spelled out for anyone who hasn’t figured it out yet.

  1. Tear down whatever is there, in this case a freeway, to get at the valuable under-valued property.
  2. Design a complete streets program that will increase sidewalk capacity, remove parking and increase traffic gridlock to help clear the way for upscale development.
  3. Build as high and dense as you can to maximize property.
  4. Charge the taxpayers for the increased infrastructure costs so the developer fees can be used for parklets, bike paths outdoor seating and other property enhancements.

2 thoughts on “Nearly three decades after Loma Prieta earthquake, Folsom Street sees new life

  1. Well according to them there are zero night clubs and bars on Folsom street from 11th to 2nd. There are no sidewalks it’s not walkable. Although they have removed a traffic lane for a green bike lane people cannot ride their bikes.

    What they fail to mention is that it will be a 2-way street from 11th to about 6th stor something like that. Develope the whole street with extra floors since zoning has been changed. There going to add a bus line to Folsom because the number 11 bus line that currently runs down Folsom some how doesn’t exist apparently. Which is always stuck in traffic after a removal of a lane. So much for speeding muni up. Imagin when it’s one lane both directions. There will be less parking big new buding a with empty expensive commercial spaces downstairs. Take a look at Castro street. It’s going to be exactly like that just a little wider because of the protected bike lanes in both directions.
    It’s going to kill the street. It’s the start of a new tenderloin. No joke.

    Who can guess the next street after Folsom to go 2-way and have that Castro street look?
    It’ll be mission street and starting at the embarcadero. I just don’t remember exactly which street came first.


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