i am writing to first thank you for the timely article on the port of san francisco's (catellus corporation funded) illinois steet intermodal bridge project.
as the author pointed out, a number of constituencies -- internationally recognized artists, neighborhood business associations, guerilla gardeners -- have mobilized against this fast-tracked construction frenzy.
though there are a number of problems with the ridge project as it currently stands, it may be worth noting that most of the local community is actually quite supportive of the port, and sees maritime industry as in important part of an economic diversity that was seriously threatened by the dotcom bubble and its concomitant myopic monoculture development jihad.
in fact, the community would likely support a rail-only bridge (notwithstanding the generally poor public process and overall frustration with the catellus-driven fast-track schedule.)
however, the inclusion of truck traffic (almost 2000 vehicles per day according to the port's own documents) is hugely problematic and seems motivated by several questionable factors including:
- short-sighted funding concerns (particularly strings attached to federal DOT monies)
- a handful of misleading statements about diesel emissions in a seriously flawed environmental impact report (the SEIR now seems destined to face a challenge in court.)
- outdated references to an intermodal bridge in planning documents which date back to the early 1980s
- essentially criminal disregard for several acres of parkland and local greening created and maintained over the past 2 decades by local volunteers (these spaces include the nationally recognized muwekme ohlone pocket park which is frequently used as a natural habitat site by scientists and local school children alike.)
- truck access further conflicts with the port's stated desire to make frequent and serious use of rail access to port 80.
- finally, the addition of roadway to the rail bridge smacks of an awkward attempt at 'urban planning by administrative fiat' which would result in the creation of a new major traffic artery that even members of the port's own southern waterfront advisory committee (SWAC) agreed in a meeting this fall could create *more* pollution and traffic in an area of our city that has higher incidence of cancer and respitory disease than any other san francisco community.
it is with these concerns in mind that the local activists have been working to convince catellus, port, and other city government to work with the islais creek constituencies in order to arrive at an appropriate rail-only bridge. they are confident that this can result in a bridge which will meet the rail access requirements of the sf shipping industry, while similarly respecting the health needs, volunteer gardening/greening efforts and over 200 at-risk jobs of those who would be displaced or otherwise impacted by the current poorly-envisaged truck and train bridge fiasco.
while there is some encouraging indications at to the port's willingness to work with the community, there is currently still a sense that there will be a long and difficult battle between those community members who would prefer responsible and intelligent bayview infrastructure development, and those in the development juggernaut who would trundle forth behind closed doors to
carry out ill-conceived boondoggles dating back to before the fall of the berlin wall.
thanks again for your good work and have a safe and happy new year.
ps: one small criticism of you article was the photo showing the 3rd street side of the building closest to the proposed bridge. the illinois street side sports numerous gardens and art projects and would have been a more representative and interesting image for bay guardian readers in the context of the article and the local constituents. if you are interested, i would be happy to provide professional quality images of our neighborhood that were commissioned by the illinois street business association of which my company (OQO Inc) is a member.