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Nov 25

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McLaren Park’s Promenade Breaks Ground

Rendering of new & improved Manselle.

Rendering of new & improved Manselle adjusted with a bit more S.F. flare and a touch of Seurat for sophistication.

As JFK Drive is to Golden Gate Park, Mansell Street will soon be to McLaren Park.  On Monday, the city broke ground on the Mansell Corridor Improvements Project, which will transform the Parkway into a pedestrian and bike friendly promenade through the center of the park.  This fantastic but long overdue project seems to signal a shift away from years of neglect by the city as the park seems to be finally getting the love it deserves, thanks in large part to the never ending efforts of the many groups that make up the McLaren Park Collaborative.  Their tireless dedication is bringing the city’s attention to this long overlooked corner of San Francisco.

Ground breaking ceremony on Monday 11/23.  Politicians front and center, volunteers to the side.

Ground breaking ceremony on Monday 11/23. Politicians front and center, volunteers and small children off to the side.

The reimagination of Mansell St. into a greenway is the result of over four years of lobbying and community meetings by the McLaren Park Collaborative, San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department, Department of Public Works, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco County Transportation Authority, President Obama and God.  Through multiple funding sources, the city will be investing over $7 million into this badly needed upgrade to Mansell.  On Monday November 23rd, the combined efforts of these many groups finally came to fruition in the form of a ground breaking ceremony chock full of all the pomp and circumstance that you would expect.  Construction will last one year so have your running shoes or strutting heals ready for the ribbon cutting in the fall of 2016.

Early S.F. expressway plan shows proposed street through McLaren connecting with Ocean Ave.

Early S.F. expressway plan shows proposed street through McLaren connecting with Ocean Ave.

Mansell Street’s current  design is a relic of the the never completed crosstown freeway plan. Early SF NIMBYs of the 1950’s & 60’s had the foresight to stop the further destruction of our neighborhoods by protesting against the expansion of a highway network that would have cut through most of the city’s neighborhoods.  Mansell was one of the few pieces of the proposed freeway plan to be partially constructed before the entire idea was scrapped. This is why the currently underutilized four lane parkway terminates into much narrower city streets at either end, a “road to no where” as some might say today.  This left the neighborhoods surrounding the park with a convenient -and currently pot hole filled- short cut through the park that many speeding motorist treat as the highway that never-was.  Perhaps inspired by the famous “Bullitt” car chase scene that was filmed here in 1967 – I’ll do another post on this later.   Anyway, this situation has left pedestrians with a real life 50 year long game of “Frogger” that involves jumping guard rails and dodging traffic in order to cross between the North & South sides of the park.

Frogger dash across Manselle to Louis Sutter pond.

Frogger’s dash across Manselle to Louis Sutter pond.

Once completed, the project will move West bound motorized traffic over to the South side of the existing roadway between University & Brazil.  The new roadway will be repaved with new pedestrian crosswalks and bus stops.   The North side of the roadway along this same stretch will be torn up and rebuilt as a landscaped multi use path with separated bike and walking lanes. Improvements will also be made to connect Brazil, Persia and Mansell east of University into the new pedestrian and bike path.  The end result will be a transformational project that will serve to reconnect both sides of the park and all the communities that surround it.

For more information on the project you can visit the project page here.

For more information on the McLaren Park Collaborative and the many groups that make up the collaborative, click here.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2015/11/mclaren-parks-promenade-breaks-ground/

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