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Famous San Francisco street to see summer closing

  • Article by: TERRY COLLINS
  • Associated Press
  • May 20, 2014 - 4:45 PM

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco transit leaders will temporarily close a stretch of Lombard Street, a popular tourist spot that's known as the "Crookedest Street in The World."

On Tuesday, the city's Municipal Transportation Agency unanimously approved a pilot closure to vehicles on the oft-photographed, well-traveled curvy and winding thoroughfare for four consecutive weekends starting in late June and including the Fourth of July weekend during the busy summer tourist season. The vehicle closure does not apply to residents who live in the area.

About an average of 2,000 vehicles travel on the street each weekend day during that period, the city said.

WHAT IS LOMBARD STREET?

The world famous scenic, hilly street in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood been featured on TV, in movies— and even video games — is known for its one-block stretch of winding brick road that consists of eight sharp, hairpin turns. Attracting hundreds of thousands annually, tourists prefer to take snapshot panoramic views of the city at the top and then drive down the crooked street with flower gardens at every corner like it's an amusement park ride. It is perhaps the most popular tourist destination in San Francisco besides the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the Cable Cars and Fisherman's Wharf.

WHY WOULD THEY CLOSE IT?

The temporary closing idea came at the request of Supervisor Mark Farrell and a steady stream of complaints by some residents wanting to curb the street's chronic gridlock mostly due to curious tourists, especially during the summer.

"This will be a test to improve the safety for residents, pedestrians and motorists in the area," MTA spokesman Paul Rose said. "There are often a lot of people who come to either take pictures or drive down the street and it can cause lengthy delays."

WHAT DO TOURISTS THINK?

Tourist Dylan Giordano, 21, of Los Angeles, agreed, as he took in the scenery Tuesday with his family visiting from Florida. "It's an insane amount of traffic and it must be difficult and obnoxious for the wealthy residents who live here and can't even get into their own driveway," said Giordano, who just graduated from the University of Southern California with his degree in Environmental and Urban Planning.

WHAT WOULD BE THE IMPACT?

The city will evaluate what impact the temporary closure will have and may seek to shut down Lombard Street more often, Rose said. No permanent shutdown is being considered — yet.

© 2014 Star Tribune