City officials have approved installing a toll to drive on Lombard Street, the famous San Francisco road commonly known as “the most crooked street in the world,” in an effort to ease congestion.
The street, a one-way road on Russian Hill between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets, has a total of 8 hairpin turns that were designed with the intention to reduce the hill’s natural 27% grade, which, at the time of its construction, was too steep for most vehicles.
Although built in 1922, the street didn’t really gain fame until it was featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, released in 1958. Since then it’s become a tourist destination of epic proportions, with roughly 2,000,000 visitors and 1,000,000 cars driving down it each year. The problem is that visitors anxious to drive down the street can cause 20-minute backups at the top of the hill, and traffic jams, trash and car break ins have become major issues in what is generally a residential neighborhood.
To help ease congestion, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority has approved a toll to drive on Lombard Street, which would range between $5 and $10 per vehicle, depending on the day of the week and time of the year (holidays and weekends would cost more). The fee would help pay for traffic control officers and cleanup efforts.
A bill has also been introduced for a reservation system to be put into place for those who wish to drive down the curvy street.
Since Lombard Street is a public road, the city will need enabling legislation from the state. Officials are trying to get it onto the State Capitol’s assembly floor in early May.
UPDATE! In autumn of 2019, Governor Gavin Newsome vetoed the bill that would have allowed a toll and reservation system for Lombard Street.
“As the former county supervisor representing this neighborhood, I am acutely aware of the need to address congestion and safety around Lombard Street,” Newsom wrote in his veto message. “However, the pricing program proposed in this bill creates social equity issues. Access to this iconic attraction should be available to all, regardless of their ability to pay.”
However he says he is committed to working with the city of San Francisco to find “other, workable safety solutions” for fixing crowding on Lombard Street.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary