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Old Posted Jan 25, 2021, 10:02 AM
timbad timbad is offline
heavy user of walkability
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Mission Bay, San Francisco
Posts: 2,872
John King article from last month on this and the work at neighboring Quartermaster Reach

At low tide right now, the area known as Quartermaster Reach in San Francisco’s Presidio is little more than two threads of salt water amid wide banks of moist sand. It’s no comparison to the much grander show to the east — a 14-acre reconstructed hillside that by next fall will be draped in vegetation, with trails offering vivid perspectives on the postcard-worthy landscape.

But the two projects are the latest elements in a remarkable ongoing transformation that will be cherished in the decades ahead. ...

Quartermaster Reach is the northernmost section of Tennessee Hollow, the watershed for much of the Presidio. Hidden in a culvert since before the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, it also spent 70 years buried underneath Doyle Drive, the commuter link between downtown San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. But the 2015 conversion of the unsightly viaduct into low-slung Presidio Parkway, complete with two segments tucked into tunnels beneath re-created bluffs, made it possible to turn back the environmental clock.


The barrier between Crissy Marsh and Quartermaster Reach was breached without fanfare last month, and workers are still placing the last of 23,000 small plantings into the sand. Within two years, they should cover the acreage with everything from pickleweed in the watery tidal channels to thick willows along the edge. As of next Friday, however, visitors will be able to get up close via a new footbridge and path between Mason Street and Girard Road.

While Quartermaster Reach might be of long-term interest primarily to birdwatchers — coots and plovers already scout the sandy scene — the 14-acre park taking shape to the west could become a Crissy Field-like destination.

Even in the current state, with Presidio Parkway loudly visible below, the drama is profound. It will come into sharper focus as several feet of topsoil are added to lift the completed bluff 35 feet above Crissy Field and as the topography is sculpted to create features like a campfire nook and two large meadows.

The design also includes an abundance of mostly native vegetation to, among other things, filter views of the adjacent roadways. A half-dozen oaks sit at the bottom of the bluff waiting to be planted, their root balls encased in 60-inch wooden boxes.


The cost of conjuring up Tunnel Tops Park exceeds $100 million, mostly from private donors. The budget for Quartermaster Reach was $23 million, funded in part by the Environmental Protection Agency, and work couldn’t begin until the new parkway was done. Both projects also were delayed by laborious negotiations to transfer the sites from Caltrans to the Presidio Trust — Caltrans built Presidio Parkway, while the trust manages nearly all of the 1,491-acre national park.

The removal of Doyle Drive also means that Battery Bluffs, which were severed from the rest of the Presidio in the 1930s, will be reconnected next year. The western segment of the parkway tunnels is being topped with fresh soil, and a trail will wend through the historic Army batteries and mature trees.

The road ahead will be arduous, too. Plans to fine-tune Crissy Field and its offerings — optimistically dubbed Crissy Next — are on hold because of the financial pressures on the conservancy from coronavirus-related shutdowns. The trust also is buffeted by the pandemic’s economic ripples.

Tunnel Tops in progress:

Quartermaster Reach:

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