To resolve a scheduling conflict, the Authority Board has now scheduled consideration of a staff recommendation on the Quint Street Bridge Replacement Project at its December meetings.
Chris Waddling has kept his finger on the pulse of the bridge project, which has proven to be one of the neighborhood’s more complicated planning processes.
by Chris Waddling
|The Quint Street Bridge shows its age.
The Caltrain Bridge over Quint Street in Silver Terrace is more than 100 years old, is cracked, and needs immediate replacement. The situation is so bad that Caltrain recently issued a “slow-down” order over this bridge to keep it from collapsing.
Caltrain has $25 million available to replace the bridge. But this area is home to many projects that make designing the bridge’s replacement extremely complex: an Oakdale Caltrain station is planned; the SFPUC’s is planning its renovation of the wastewater treatment facility; and the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market will soon be building at 901 Rankin and renovating the remainder of its aging facility.
Simply replacing the bridge with one like that which was installed in 2011 across Jerrold Ave would not accommodate a future Caltrain station at Oakdale Ave, while installing a bridge that would accommodate a station would cost up to $10M more than is in the budget.
The “recommended” proposal, which first came to light in a CADOT memo in 2009 and that was first introduced to the community in 2011, is being referred to today by the SFCTA as Option 1: Berm Design and Connector Road. It would replace the existing bridge with a berm (a raised earthen embankment) for $20 million and construct a new Quint-Jerrold Connector Road for $5-8M, providing access to Jerrold for 75% of vehicular traffic. It facilitates a future Oakdale Caltrain station but closes through access on Quint Street.
Vacation of Quint Street northeast of the Caltrain tracks is part of the proposal, and would be compatible with adjacent future uses including the Master Planning efforts at the SFPUC’s Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant. Vacation of Quint St would also facilitate construction staging of both the berm and the connector road projects.
With the berm/embankment cost at $20M, the remaining $5M in the existing budget would be used to help fund construction of the connector road. Cost estimates as high as $8M for this have been proposed, however, so there may still be a cost gap that needs to be overcome in this proposal. The funding for costs above the budget would need to come from the purchase by SFPUC of the Quint St Vacation Area, which is about 2/3 of an acre and could be valued at roughly $3M. This would adequately and fully fund the connector road portion of the project.
The main priority of the project has so far been the replacement of the bridge. Discussions surrounding the connector road have been mostly framed in terms of “if and when funding becomes available” and that it would be completed only “after the bridge has been replaced.” Fortunately, some progress has been made in addressing this.
In response to community-based concerns, Supervisor Cohen, who is also a SFCTA board member charged with deciding which direction to go on this project, has agreed to insert wording into the SFCTA proposal that would insist that the connector road be prioritized and built first so that the community loses a minimum amount of vehicular access between Silver Terrace and Bayview during construction of the berm.
Other concerns remain to be addressed, however. The physical appearance of the berm on its western side has not been adequately discussed. This area is currently a significant dumping and graffiti site, and the embankment has the potential to exacerbate this problem and end up being an even uglier eyesore than the existing bridge and surrounding area.
Because the SFPUC benefits beyond the mere value of the land itself, the community would continue to require that, as part of their purchase of the “vacation area,” that the SFPUC set aside funds for beautification, landscaping, security, and traffic flow improvements, both on the western side of the berm as well as on surrounding streets.
Finally, it remains to be addressed that the connector road would eliminate the legal left turn onto Jerrold that roughly 25% of motorists make on a daily basis. A simple solution, that has not been mentioned in any of the public meetings, is a traffic circle located at the Quint St Connector to Jerrold.
At a diameter up to the size of the one at Division and Townsend near Showplace Square, roughly 160-ft, a traffic circle would slow traffic, allow for a left turn onto Jerrold from Quint St, provide smooth transition onto an improved Innes St. around the renovated Produce Market, and would offer an opportunity for greening and landscaping. Use of a “truck apron” around the center of the circle would allow truck traffic to continue unimpeded.
Quesada Gardens Initiative builds community in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. www.quesadagardens.org