At edge of a bluff in San Francisco’s Presidio, Scott Milius gazed out on the pile of twisted concrete and steel that used to be the old Doyle Drive. But beyond the industrial evidence of this weekend’s violent demolition, lie unobstructed bay views that hadn’t been witnessed in over 75 years when Doyle Drive was first erected as the approach to the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
“It’s clear this is an improvement over what was there,” said Milius. “I’m guessing when it’s finished it’s going to be beautiful.”
The frenzied weekend saw massive trucks pummeling Doyle Drive to make way for traffic on the new Presidio Parkway, which opened Monday morning just before 5am. Despite the initial slow commute, traffic planners said they were pleased with the morning transition.
“We’ve asked people to just be patient during these first couple of weeks,” said Presidio Parkway spokeswoman Molly Graham. “There’s just going to be an adjustment.”
By late morning, traffic moved along without a hitch as drivers cruised the new parkway and tunnel which opened to scenic views and mammoth piles of rubble.
With Doyle Drive out of the way, workers will now begin construction the second half of the parkway. The project is set to open in late 2015.
On Monday, K.C. Coleman strapped his son into the car seat and made the historic trek from Marin on the new parkway.
“I was telling my son in the back this is really an interesting moment for the both of us,” said Coleman. “Because we’re both going through for the first time ever.”
Like many, Coleman likened the demise of Doyle Drive to the demolition of the quake-damaged Embarcadero Freeway in 1991.
“I was obviously here in ‘89 Loma Prieta,” said Coleman. “Everyone understands the reasoning why they need to do it and it feels historic for all the right reasons.”
From his office in the Presidio, Patrick Middleton became a first-hand beneficiary of the changes to Doyle Drive. When he left work Friday afternoon, cars were still whizzing by his office window at eye level on Doyle Drive. But by Monday morning, Doyle was a pile of rubble, and traffic was about 30 feet lower on a sleek parkway.
“Now we have better water views without a freeway in front of us,” said Middleton.
Middleton will have a perfect vantage point as the work on the second half of the parkway begins.
There will be plenty to see with three more tunnels planned for the parkway project. Eventually, sprawling green lawns will cover the tunnels, creating a green walkway from the Presidio to Crissy Field below. Since the Presidio was a military post when Doyle Drive was built, it will be some of the first public access to the areas since San Francisco earliest days.