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San Francisco considers toll for Lombard Street

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The proposed fee to drive on a publicly maintained street would be a first

People and cars clogging up Lombard Street. Photo by achinthamb/Shutterstock

Russian Hill residents along Lombard Street have long complained about the traffic on the world-famous twisting corridor. Concerns over the angled street’s perennial attraction for motorists have gotten so serious that supervisor Mark Farrell has proposed putting a toll on the road.

It would be a first to charge anybody to drive on a public road; in fact, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city would need for Sacramento to even invest them with the authority make such a toll happen.

While some might find it hard to sympathize with Lombard residents, being as many of them lucked out with such primo real estate, the crowds and cars, both of which now clog up the famous rue, have become unbearable.

An SFMTA report titled the Crooked Street Study came out this month characterizing the street’s attraction as a mess on a larger scale:

Automobile Congestion affects vehicle circulation and resident access not just on Lombard, but also on Larkin, Polk, Van Ness, Chestnut, and other neighborhood streets.

[...] At the busiest times, this queue can stretch past the intersection of Lombard and Van Ness and can take over 20 minutes to traverse by car. Additionally, vehicle loading and parking activity creates congestion and blocks sidewalks and driveways. Outreach with the community also identified double-parking and parking on sidewalks as issues related to vehicle congestion.

Nan Palmero

The paper suggested a Golden Gate Bridge-style system where FastTrak charges cars automatically for turning down the crooked lane or sends a bill in the mail, which Supervisor Mark Farrell now proposes the city take up.

The size of the fee hasn’t been worked out yet, nor the technicalities of putting it in place.