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The Subterranean Golden Gate Freeway Below Marina Boulevard

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Welcome to Curbed SF's newest series Could Have Been, where we investigate some of the most outlandish and grandiose proposals that were never built. Know of a plan that never saw the light of day? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.

Proposed diagram of a subterranean freeway under Marina Blvd, 1965 [Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library]

Back in the 1960s, there was a plan for an underground freeway that would connect downtown to the Golden Gate Bridge approach. Estimated to cost $100M (that's about $718M today), the idea was proposed by then-Supervisor Jack Morrison. An earlier plan to extend the elevated Embarcadero freeway to the Golden Gate Bridge was one of seven proposed projects that were rejected by the Board of Supervisors when public outcry over the highway plans caused the "Freeway Revolt" of 1959.

Alternatives from the original 1965 study (the preferred alternative was F, F-5) [Photo: Golden Gate Freeway]

The 1960s plan called for three parallel underground tubes – two six-lane tubes and a third two-lane tube with reversible lanes – each passing under three separate streets. The three tubes would have passed under Bay, North Point, and Beach Streets, join together at Fort Mason, pass under Marina Boulevard, and join with the approaches to the Golden Gate Bridge in the Presidio. The original 1966 study has all the details on how it would have worked. In addition to the underground freeway, the area above it in the Marina and Telegraph Hill was proposed for massive housing and commercial redevelopment. Another even wilder alternative considered was a double-deck sub-aqueous tube that would go under water around the Marina, but it was quickly rejected for being too difficult to construct.

Map master Eric Fisher has found a slew of section renderings of the proposed Golden Gate Freeway:


In a final, climactic 6-5 vote, the Board of Supervisors rejected the Park Freeway. The Supervisors' Transportation Committee had received a petition with 15,000 signatures, 20,000 letters and telegrams, and had received opposition from 77 community organizations. The idea didn't die there though - similar proposals cropped up in the 1970s.

· The Freeway Revolt [Found SF]
· The History of San Francisco Bay Area Freeway Development [CA Highways]
· Golden Gate Freeway [kriske.com]
· Saving America's "last lovely city" : the San Francisco freeway revolt [Stanford]