On Thursday, after a decade of waiting, the Presidio touched off its plan to build a sprawling 14-acre park directly atop the Presidio Parkway tunnels, a $118 million project that will—fingers crossed—open to the public in two years.
The trust started the design phase of the Tunnel Tops project in 2014. James Corner Field Operations, the SF branch of the New York-based firm that designed the High Line—a 23-block park built on what used to be an elevated train overpass—will helm the project.
Upon completion, a new stretch of pedestrian-accessible land will rest on top of the Presidio Parkway tunnels. The landscaping will include gardens with native vegetation, connecting pathways, scenic overlooks, a campfire circle, picnic areas, and a three-acre play area.
The Presidio touts the Tunnel Tops as a way to reclaim the highway space for park goers, who will soon be able to walk from Crissy Field to the Presidio, without affecting auto access to the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond.
According to the Presidio Trust, the Tunnel Tops plan harkens back to the days after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which eventually led to the removal of the unsightly and obstructive overpasses connecting to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Most recently, an old Burger King was removed to make way for the new project. And in August, 50,000 cubic tons of dirt came to the site in preparation for the long process of burying the tunnels.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other head honchos gathered at the Presidio for a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday—literally shoveling dirt onto the site, rather than the traditional, ceremonial groundbreaking for a large civic project—initiating the construction after years of planning.
The project timeline called for an end to design in 2018 and the beginning of construction this year. If all goes to the schedule, the public will access the new green space in 2021.