Presidio Parkway Sets Standard for Sustainable Infrastructure

Presidio Parkway, a state-of-the-art roadway through San Francisco’s Presidio that is already earning accolades for its environmental innovations, opened to traffic on July 12, 2015.

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The 1.6-mile, six-lane roadway (Highway 101) winds through the Presidio national park, linking the city to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The new highway includes twin high-viaduct bridges, four tunnels, and a low viaduct interchange, with continuous shoulders and a landscaped median.

Known as Doyle Drive since it was first opened in 1936, the safer, streamlined Presidio Parkway includes local roads within the Presidio, providing a major regional traffic link between the San Francisco Peninsula and North Bay Area counties. It features numerous safety enhancements, including current seismic safety requirements, a median barrier separating north-bound and south-bound traffic, wider traffic lanes and safety shoulders.

“The project team strived to create a roadway that reduced impacts to biological, cultural and natural resources; respected the project setting within a national park, the National Historic Landmark District and the surrounding neighborhoods; met community needs; and provided a safer roadway,” said John Fisher, WSP USA’s project manager.

Pedestrians and bicyclists will also benefit from numerous new opportunities to cross over or under the parkway to access the shoreline at Crissy Field.

The Presidio Parkway was delivered in two phases, with phase I a traditional design-bid-build project and phase II a public-private partnership (P3) under a design-build-finance-operate-maintain arrangement.

“This pathfinder project is a first for California’s emerging P3 program and a model for alternative procurement in California and nationally,” Fisher says.

©2015 WSP USA

Presidio Parkway will serve as a gateway to the City of San Francisco (visible in the background).

16-Year Partnership

Planning for project began in the 1950s, but work began in earnest in 1999 after the San Francisco Board of Supervisors authorized studies in 1997.

WSP has been involved with the Presidio Parkway for 16 years in several planning, design and advisory roles on behalf of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), beginning in 1999 as lead consultant for an environmental and design study that considered alternatives for replacing Doyle Drive.

The resulting environmental impact statement and report was approved in 2008. Construction of the new Presidio Parkway started in 2009.

Since 2007 WSP, in joint venture with Arup, provided final design and construction services in joint venture for the Authority on behalf of Caltrans.

More recently, the joint venture serves as advisor to the Authority and Caltrans for the final phase of the project, which began in 2010. Construction was delivered by a P3 led by Golden Link Concessionaire LLC, which designed, built, and financed the completion of the roadway and will operate and maintain it on behalf of Caltrans for the next 30 years.

The joint venture of WSP and Arup provides technical and financial advisory services to the Authority and Caltrans through final acceptance of the P3 phase of the project.

Fisher was the project manager, Sabine van der Sluis was the deputy project manager, and Stuart Sunshine is the principal-in-charge for the work performed by WSP in the joint venture. The earlier planning and preliminary design work was managed by Gary Kennerley. Matt Bieschke, Alasdair Macphail and Alistair Sawers played key advisory roles during the P3 procurement phase.

©2015 WSP USA

Federal, state and local officials, as well as members of the project team, gathered to celebrate opening of the Presidio Parkway to traffic on July 13.

‘Infrastructure as Art’

The day after the opening of the new roadway to traffic, federal, state and local officials, as well as members of the project team, gathered to celebrate the completion of the $1.1 billion project.

“We have reason to be proud,” said Tilly Chang, executive director of the Authority. “This is more than just a functional roadway. This is infrastructure as art. It echoes the beauty of its surroundings. There is no bad view, and like fine art, Doyle Drive pushed the boundaries and forged new ground.”

“Ultimately, safety and improved mobility is our goal, but improving the surrounding area is also advantageous,” added Malcolm Dougherty, Caltrans director. He said the Presidio required “a unique, one-of-a-kind project” to meet all objectives.

“We were also very innovative in how we delivered this project,” he continued. “It tapped into the ingenuity of the private sector as well as the public sector. It was those partnerships both public and private that got us to where we are today.”

First Greenroads Highway

Presidio Parkway recently became the first certified sustainable highway project in the U.S., earning a Bronze rating from the Greenroads Foundation. Caltrans is the first department of transportation in the U.S. to pursue and implement sustainable roadway measures.

“We approached the Doyle Drive/Presidio Parkway project with the thought in mind that we were delivering a legacy project that current and future generations will be proud of,” said Bijan Sartipi, Caltrans District 4 director. “This project not only benefits users of the Presidio but also emphasizes our commitment to providing sustainable solutions to transportation demands.”

Key elements recognized by Greenroads in the project’s Bronze rating include an extensive public involvement process with special attention paid to biological, cultural and natural resources. It earned high marks for implementing an environmentally sensitive design to rebuild a complicated infrastructure in a dense urban environment with active traffic.

“The San Francisco County Transportation Authority applauds the Presidio Parkway team for receiving the first Greenroads certification for this transformative project,” added Chang. “Through excellent planning and execution by the Presidio Parkway’s various partners, this project stands as a national model for design and construction of sustainable roadways.”

©2015 WSP USA

Traffic on San Francisco’s Presidio Parkway shortly after its opening to traffic on July 12, 2015. 

National Model

Presidio Parkway is now being used as a case study by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Transportation Investment Center to help state and local governments, developers and investors learn from others’ experiences.

“In addition to solving a decades-old seismic protection problem for a critical Bay Area commuter route, this project represents the sort of large-scale infrastructure improvement America needs,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.