Officials vie for Doyle Drive upgrade funds 

San Francisco officials, including Mayor Gavin Newsom and state Sen. Carole Migden, made a last-minute plea to state transportation officials Tuesday for $175 million in funding to seismically upgrade Doyle Drive, the southern approach to the Golden Gate Bridge.

The California Transportation Commission is meeting today in Irvine to vote on the initial $4.5 billion spending plan, part of the $19.9 billion transportation bond measure approved by voters in November.

Close to 120,000 cars travel over Doyle Drive daily, according to city officials. For more than three decades, there have been efforts to make the safety improvements, but they have stalled, in part due to a lack of funding. The project is now calculated to cost $810 million, according to city officials.

A list of CTC staff recommendations for the transportation bond funding was released on Monday, and the Doyle Drive replacement did not make the cut. It was the only funding request submitted from San Francisco this year, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed the project in a letter he sent to CTC Commission Chairwoman Marian Bergeson on Feb. 20.

Schwarzenegger called Doyle Drive "a major goods-movement route that suffers from major congestion."

At Tuesday’s press conference, held in the Presidio under a Doyle Drive overpass, Newsom called it one of the "most perilous and structurally unsound thoroughfares in the country," and noted that it has not been seismically upgraded in 70 years.

"I actually feel uncomfortable standing under this," Newsom said, as the sound of cars rumbled overhead. "I’m not kidding."

Commission officials have told The City that the Doyle project is not a top candidate for the funding because "it’s a seismic safety project, not a congestion management project," Newsom said.

Newsom said that if the CTC decides not to vote to add Doyle Drive to the list of projects approved for the transportation bond funding, then he hopes to secure a commitment from the agency’s commissioners to provide the money through another state fund, the State Highway Operation and Protection Program.

City Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who is also chairman of the San Francisco Transportation Authority, said $200 million in funding is already aligned to support the Doyle Drive replacement project, including $100 million San Francisco voters approved through a local transportation sales tax. The Transportation Authority has already completed the state and federal environmental clearances for the project.

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