Let's Call the Whole Thing Off-Ramp
I would like to clarify a few points that were raised in the article regarding the Terminal Separator Structure Replacement Project ("Clockers," Bay View, Nov 29).
The city has been working closely with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Caltrans since the Loma Prieta earthquake to develop a freeway replacement project that provides a level of accessibility that meets state criteria and serves existing businesses and residences in northeastern San Francisco, yet also recognizes the environmental impacts of elevated freeways in densely developed urban areas. The Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) Variant, which proposes modification of the existing Fremont Street off-ramp and widening of the Fourth Street off-ramp, appears to best balance these concerns and has been endorsed by the city's commissions on planning, parking and traffic, and public transportation.
Throughout this process, every effort has been made to ensure that the federal emergency relief funds available for the replacement of the Mid-Embarcadero and the Terminal Separator Structure (TSS) not be jeopardized, as they are considered essential to completion of the project. Caltrans has preliminarily concurred that the DPT Variant meets the state's accessibility criteria, as do options that also include Second Street ramps. We are waiting for a response from the federal government on the fundability of the DPT alternative. To date no determination has been made by FHWA. Our efforts to ensure that the city's preferred alternative is eligible for federal funding will continue.
It should not be assumed that the construction of new Second Street ramps would alleviate congestion in the vicinity of the freeway. The results of DPT analysis indicate that construction of the Second Street on-ramp would increase congestion on city streets and the freeway. This would result primarily from an overlap of traffic bound for the Peninsula and Bay Bridge ramps along First and Harrison streets. The construction of a new Second Street ramp would also reintroduce pre-earthquake merge conflicts that existed on the freeway where the TSS on-ramp merged with the Fourth Street on-ramp.
Finally, the article was correct in identifying a new residential community in the vicinity of the Bay Bridge. It is not confined to the residents of the ClockTower, but includes many new residents east of Fourth Street and extending along the Embarcadero to South Beach. Any assessment of the freeway replacement must take into account the impacts on all affected communities including the immediate neighborhood, particularly those that are directly affected, such as the ClockTower.
William L. Lee
Chief Administrative Officer
Out of the Box
I read with interest Ellen McGarrahan's "Clockers." Whether due to the limitations of space or focus, the article seemed to overlook (ignore?) a basic issue about building freeway ramps.
The first question that should be asked is not how much Federal Highway Administration money can we spend (which in reality is our money -- taxpayer money). The first question should be what alternatives work, and then, at what cost? The residents of Rincon Hill (including, but not limited to the ClockTower) looked closely at alternatives that created a new off-ramp onto Second Street (at a spot where you can't "get there from here"). We also looked at safety issues relating to inadequate space on the freeway for a "Last S.F. Exit" lane and to off-ramp backups caused by frequent commute-hour gridlock on Second Street where the off-ramp would "T." We also looked at alternatives for building a new on-ramp into 101 South and pointed out that to get to the proposed on-ramp, southbound traffic would be encouraged to compete with eastbound-Bay Bridge traffic on an already congested Harrison, or take an even less logical route of west on Howard, south on Second, backtrack east on Folsom, and then south on Essex (further congesting those corridors also filled with eastbound-Bay Bridge traffic) when that same traffic could have gone just two blocks farther on Howard and one block south to get to the existing Fourth Street on-ramp. These are not the only examples of flawed logic in the Second Street alternatives; truly there are many more. But I assume space here is limited.
Bottom line? The proposed Second Street alternatives would not only fail to serve the needs of San Francisco, they actually would further exacerbate the situation. If the government is hellbent on spending our hard-earned taxpayer money, then hasn't the time come for taxpayers, politicians, and journalists to insist that the money be spent on logical, efficient, and economical solutions? And if the DPT solution better addresses the needs and at a lesser cost, then can't rational people make a rational case for spending our money in an intelligent manner? It's the '90s folks ... time to think outside of the box. That is what the residents of Rincon Hill and the ClockTower were trying to say when they addressed City Hall.
I am compelled to write after reading (portions) of your article on CRUSH (Nov. 22). I admit I only read part of the article, but I have a low tolerance for fluff. Besides, 15 seconds of Cops while channel-surfing gives me roughly the same amount of information as your article.
I'd like to review your recipe for a cover article: First, make neat bios of the young, hip cops laying down the law, complete with cool sunglasses, funky uniforms, and interesting facial hair. Don't bother humanizing the police, simply copy the description from your favorite TV show. Next, show the young cops in action, including fascinating dialogue on topics near and dear to us all ("boogers") and using cutting-edge street lingo ("put him down somewhere"). Then, discuss police practices that are a defense attorney's wet dream, including illegal searches and improper interrogation techniques. Unfortunately, the recipe yields only the story of one set of thugs usurping another.
But enough sarcasm. Your article is plainly offensive because of its ingratiating tone, like a slobbering puppy dog. In describing Officer Lozada, your reporter writes, "Cool on the outside, he can pop into the excitement of police work at any second, volunteering to take the wheel of a hot chase into oncoming traffic." Is this 21 Jump Street? Or merely a subversive recruiting drive for Gen Xers looking for a career with some prestige, money, and excitement? Unfortunately, people who become cops for those reasons quickly become bad cops.
Where were writer George Cothran's (do I hear Hollywood calling?) questions challenging such fascist behavior as physically attacking a falsely identified suspect who resists when his rights are being trampled by an invasion of his privacy?
Actually, I empathize with your minor premise that black-on-black murders are going unsolved. However, you cite several valid reasons for this phenomenon, including reluctant witnesses, unsympathetic victims, and possible self-defense claims. The Police Department should be commended for devoting resources to this problem. But the fact that they assigned rookie cops rather than seasoned investigators indicates the priority these unsolved homicides hold in the department. Rather than criticizing this prioritizing, or the improper police conduct that results from having rookies doing investigations, your reporter merely jumps in the cruiser to write about the excitement of following these cops around the city.
Brian E. Hennessey