January 26, 2006
(For Board: February 10, 2006)

REPORT OF THE BUILDING AND OPERATING COMMITTEE/
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Honorable Board of Directors
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway
   and Transportation District

Honorable Members:

A meeting of the Building and Operating Committee was held in the Board Room, Administration Building, Toll Plaza, San Francisco, California, on Thursday, January 26, 2006, at 10:00 a.m., Chair Eddie presiding.

Committee Members Present (8): Chair Eddie; Vice Chair Reilly; Directors Boro, Hernández, Martini, Moylan and Stroeh; President Middlebrook (Ex Officio)
Committee Members Absent (1): Director Ammiano
Other Directors Present (5): Directors Cochran, Murray, Newhouse Segal, Pahre and Shahum

Committee of the Whole Members Present (13): Directors Cochran, Eddie, Hernández, Martini, Murray, Newhouse Segal, Pahre, Reilly, Shahum and Stroeh; Second Vice President Boro; First Vice President Moylan; President Middlebrook
Committee of the Whole Members Absent (6): Directors Ammiano, Brown, Dufty, Kerns, McGoldrick and Sandoval

Staff Present: General Manager Celia G. Kupersmith; District Engineer Denis J. Mulligan; Secretary of the District Janet S. Tarantino; Attorney David J. Miller; Deputy General Manager/Bridge Division Kary H. Witt; Deputy General Manager/Bus Division Susan C. Chiaroni; Public Affairs Director Mary C. Currie; Planning Director Alan R. Zahradnik; Acting Auditor-Controller and Budget and Program Analysis Manager Jennifer Mennucci; Executive Assistant to the General Manager Amorette Ko; Assistant Clerk of the Board Patsy Whala

Visitors Present: Rodney Pimentel, Deputy Director and Leroy Saage, Project Manager, San Francisco County Transportation Authority; Molly Graham, Public Involvement Director for the Doyle Drive Environmental and Design Study Project,; Gary Kennerley, Consultant Project Manager, Parsons Brinckerhoff; John Diamante, Sausalito Resident

     
1.
Presentation by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority on the Doyle Drive Environmental and Design Study Project
     
 

Chair Eddie introduced Rodney Pimentel and Leroy Saage of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), who gave a PowerPoint slide presentation on the status of the Doyle Drive Environmental and Design Study Project (Doyle Drive Project). A copy of the presentation is available in the Office of the District Secretary.

Mr. Pimentel expressed his gratitude to the Board for the opportunity to update the District on the Doyle Drive Project. He stated that SFCTA has released the draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report (EIR), which is being reviewed by the public, with the goal to finalize the EIR by the end of 2006. Mr. Saage provided the status of the Doyle Drive Project in regards to the project alternatives, issues of concern, traffic operations and status of public circulation of the EIR. He described the project timeline, with the design phase taking place between 2006 and 2008, construction beginning in 2009, and the final project scheduled for completion in 2012.

Mr. Saage described the existing condition of Doyle Drive, noting that the 70-plus-year-old facility has reached the end of its service life and could suffer loss or weight restrictions in the event of an earthquake. He also noted that the accident rate on Doyle Drive is not inherently unusual; however, when accidents happen they tend to be catastrophic because of the nature of head-on collisions.

Mr. Saage summarized the project alternatives: (1) No-Build; (2) Replace and Widen; (3) Long Tunnel; (4) Short Tunnel; and, (5) Presidio Parkway. He noted that, following analysis in 2004, Alternatives 3 and 4 were deleted from consideration. Mr. Saage continued with the presentation and pointed out that both Alternatives 2 and 5 would provide wider lanes, a median, shoulders and new ramps and can accommodate the transfer vehicle for a moveable median barrier. He noted that the differences in traffic volume between the alternatives are minor, since the Doyle Drive Project does not change roadway capacity.

Mr. Saage emphasized the benefits of Alternative 5 (Presidio Parkway), such as rich landscaping, separation of northbound and southbound roadways, fewer historic structures displaced, less intrusive visual impact, reduced noise and a better esthetic fit for its purpose as a National Park. He stated that the design concept for the Presidio Parkway includes the installation of low-speed connectors, as well as the potential to construct a direct access road from Doyle Drive to the Golden Gate Bridge view area to solve a complex weave and merge pattern among traffic from Park Presidio and Doyle Drive.

Mr. Saage provided a summary of the traffic analysis regarding current traffic conditions and how traffic along San Francisco city streets would be affected by the project under future traffic conditions. He suggested that the District may have to consider changing the Toll Plaza lane configuration to 3 lanes northbound and 3 lanes southbound to assist with the projected dramatic growth in reverse peak direction traffic in the morning.

Discussion ensued among the Directors and the SFCTA representatives, including the following salient points:

  • Director Murray made the following inquiries and comments:
    • She inquired regarding the variety of materials for the soundwall on the Doyle Drive Project. In response, Mr. Saage stated that there is an infinite type of options for soundwalls ranging from public art to plants, which will be addressed during the design phase.
    • She inquired as to whether SFCTA was requesting the District’s formal opinion regarding the Doyle Drive Project. In response, Mr. Saage stated that the presentation was informational only with the intent to give the District an overview of the Doyle Drive Project that complements the EIR.
  • Director Shahum made the following inquiries and comments:
    • She expressed her support for Alternative 5 because it retains the esthetic qualities of the park and because of the design increases safety by slowing down traffic as it flows into San Francisco city streets.
    • She inquired as to the status of the project funding. In response, Mr. Saage stated that the project is fully funded for the design phase and SFCTA is confident that additional funding will be available when the project reaches the construction phase.
    • She inquired as to a cost comparison between Alternative 2 and Alternative 5. In response, Mr. Saage stated that Alternative 5 will cost approximately $100 million more than Alternative 2 because the associated tunnels and its more complex staging drive the costs higher.
    • She commented that the San Francisco Bicycle Advocacy community would not be addressing bicycle access associated with the Doyle Drive Project, since there is already adequate bicycle access through the Presidio.
  • Director Middlebrook made the following inquiries and comments:
    • She inquired as to whether the cost of each particular design option such as the loop ramp versus the hook ramp, is provided in the EIR, to assist those that are providing feedback. In response, Mr. Saage stated that the cost differentials are posted in the EIR as total amounts, as with past practice when reporting construction and right-of-way costs; however, costs will be a major consideration before the selection of an alternative.
    • She inquired as whether the cost differential between the alternatives included obtaining rights-of-way. Mr. Saage stated that the outer limits of the Doyle Drive project are set by the constraints on historic buildings and that, regarding rights-of-way, each alternative has a total project footprint of similar size.
    • She requested a detailed explanation regarding the reference to local funding sources such as bridge tolls and value pricing. In response, Mr. Saage stated that SFCTA is planning to conduct a pricing study to evaluate the acquisition of user-generated revenue.
    • Director Middlebrook inquired as to whether the District will be commenting on the Doyle Drive Project EIR. In response, Celia Kupersmith stated that the District will be providing formal comment on the EIR, with a focus on the slip ramp design that will enable vehicles to have a smooth and easy merge to the Golden Gate Bridge viewing area. She also stated that the District will comment on the three-lane southbound and three-lane northbound morning configuration assumption in the traffic analysis, since the District currently utilizes a four-lane southbound and two-lane northbound configuration in the morning. Ms. Kupersmith further stated that the Doyle Drive Project will not be partially funded by Golden Gate Bridge tolls. She noted that there are legal issues with the ability to spend Bridge toll money on projects that are not specific to the Bridge. Ms. Kupersmith further stated that the District will also express gratitude to SFCTA for providing storage for the potential moveable median barrier transfer vehicle during the middle of the day.
   
 
  • Director Newhouse Segal requested that SFCTA provide pictorial information regarding the traffic impacts so that the people in the community can graphically understand the impact of the Doyle Drive Project on local city streets. In response, Mr. Saage stated that SFCTA has analyzed the potential traffic impacts of the project on all of the major city streets and that analysis is reported in detail in the EIR. He noted, however, that such analysis might be easier to understand if presented graphically.
  • Chair Eddie expressed his gratitude to Messrs. Pimentel and Saage for the presentation and commented that it is interesting that a project of this magnitude contemplates such a small increase in traffic over the next 25 years. He also noted that, in his opinion, it is important to search for alternative transportation options rather than constructing bigger highways. He further noted that the Doyle Drive Project is a worthwhile project since it improves vehicle safety without increasing roadway capacity.
     
  Public Comment
     
 

John Diamante expressed his support for Alternative 1, the no build option, because capital projects that access the Golden Gate Bridge should include rail linkage in the design.  He noted that the corollary to a rail link would be increased bicycle access.  He stated that peak hour traffic is slowly decreasing and will continue the decline with the implementation of the new ferry service to be implemented by the San Francisco Water Transit Authority and the planned Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit rail line from Sonoma County to Marin County.

Action by the Board - None Required

     
2. Status Report from District Appointees on Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Board
     
 

The Committee was provided with copies of the Minutes for the November 16, 2005 meeting; Agenda and Minutes for the December 21, 2005 meeting; and, Agenda for the January 18, 2006 meeting of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District (SMART). Copies of these items are available in the Office of the District Secretary, as well as on the District’s web site.

At the meeting, Director Pahre, one of the District’s representatives to SMART, provided updates on the following topics:

  1. She stated that the SMART Board is in the process of finalizing the Request for Proposals relative to the Santa Rosa Square project. She noted that the project will help the local economy with employment opportunities, affordable housing, environmentally-friendly buildings and flexible spaces.
  2. She stated that the SMART Board has held two public hearings in regards to the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and has received comments from approximately 200 individuals. She noted that the public comment period is now closed and that they are in the process of preparing formal response letters. She also expressed her gratitude to Planning Director Alan Zahradnik for disseminating the District staff’s formal comments on the EIR to the District Board members also on the SMART Board prior to the public hearings. Ms. Kupersmith stated that the District’s comments were focused on the adequacy of the analysis regarding the impact the train will have on existing and future District bus operations, including the San Rafael Transit Center, which will need to accommodate both bus and train service.
     
  Public Comment
     
 

John Diamante expressed comments that Regional Measure 2 funding is available for the resumption of the entire legacy rail line from Humboldt County to the City and County of San Francisco, for approximately one-third the cost of SMART system that will serve only the counties of Marin and Sonoma.

Action by the Board - None Required

     
3.

Status Report on Engineering Projects

     
 

In a memorandum to Committee, Deputy District Engineer Ewa Z. Bauer, District Engineer Denis Mulligan and General Manager Celia Kupersmith reported on current engineering projects.  A copy of the report is available in the Office of the District Secretary and on the District’s web site.

Action by the Board - None Required

     
4.

Public Comment

     
 
Public comment was received relative to Agenda Item No. 1, Presentation by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority on the Doyle Drive Environmental and Design Study Project and Agenda Item No. 2, Status Report from District Appointees on Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Board, as noted above.
     
5.

Adjournment

     
  All business having been concluded, the meeting was declared adjourned at 11:05 a.m.
     

Respectfully submitted,

/s/ James C. Eddy, Chair

Building and Operating Committee