San Francisco

Great Highway Sand Relocation in the Works

File image of the Great Highway in San Francisco.
NBC Bay Area

San Francisco Public Works began its annual sand redistribution along the Great Highway on the western edge of the city Wednesday morning.

For the next seven weekdays, contractors will move 30,000 cubic yards of sand from the sides of the road back to the beachfront in efforts to reduce sand buildup.

Pedestrians, bikers and others can expect to see southbound lane closures on the western side of the highway from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during construction days. Public Works officials suggest that people use the northbound lanes on the east side of the road, as crews will be in the area with equipment.

Workers from Yerba Buena Engineering & Construction will work between Noriega and Santiago streets, and between Judah and Noriega streets.

Rachel Gordon, spokesperson for Public Works, says the amount of sand they're removing has almost doubled since last year, maybe due to the heavy wind season the city faced this spring.

"It gets pretty deep at a couple of key intersections," Gordon said. "We've certainly heard from some bicyclists and pedestrians going 'When are you going to clear the sand off?' because it's been harder just to walk down the Great Highway."

Though there are minor, routine sand redistributions throughout the year, Public Works has to hold off from their yearly project until the western snowy plover population, an endangered shorebird species, has taken flight from Ocean Beach, which they inhabit for 10 months out of the year. Experts from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area confirmed that the species is out of the area.

Gordon says that annual sand redistribution is an effective, minimally invasive routine that Public Works will continue to do in the upcoming years.

"This is Mother Nature doing her thing, pushing the sand from the oceanside to the Great Highway. The area used to be sand dunes, the whole Sunset area. The natural inclination of the sand is to blow, and that's what it does," Gordon said.

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