Why Would You Build A Freeway Through Your Lovely City?

Thanks to a well-timed earthquake, present-day San Francisco now has fewer intraurban freeways than it used to and is in fact one of the most freeway-free cities I’ve been to. But cruising around today it’s hard to avoid noticing that the big freeway element they still have here is exceptionally poorly placed.

This is basically a through-route so that people who live in the East Bay can get to Silicon Valley conveniently or vice versa. Meanwhile it separates the hip Mission District from the waterfront taking up space that should be more hip neighborhood. And then it has a little spur that disconnects the Mission from the growing tech employment center in SoMa. It’s not unusual by any means for an American city to be unfortunately disrupted with freeways but it is unusually unfortunate in light of the high quality of life and scarcity of land in the Bay Area in general and San Francisco in particular.

If the bridge just melded into the city street grid and the freeways were replaced with boulevards, it’d be easy to imagine a whole second downtown around the Caltrain station and the baseball stadium just melding nicely into the city. Land is very expensive in this part of the world, and for a city to hand it over for the use of suburban commuters is silly.