The scarred pavements, chain-link fences and construction vehicles that accompanied a half-decade of construction on the Bay Bridge could soon be replaced by green grass, barking dogs and idling park patrons.
From 2003 to 2009, the sound of work crews was a constant in the South of Market area due to the $471 million undertaking to retrofit the western approach to the Bay Bridge.
To help compensate local residents for the inconvenience, $4 million was set aside from the bridge’s toll revenue for public improvements, including the creation of a dog park at Beale and Bryant streets, in the shadow of the Bay Bridge anchorage.
On Wednesday, the Bay Area Toll Authority, the group overseeing the Bay Bridge retrofit, officially allocated the $4 million for the landscaping upgrades, which include the construction of a retaining wall and public plaza on Fifth Street and additional green space on Essex Street, according to authority spokesman John Goodwin.
Currently a vacant and dilapidated parking lot, the site will eventually feature two separate dog areas — one for big and one for small pooches — a couple of watering holes, and plenty of plants and green space.
Some 20 to 30 percent of local residents have dogs, but there has never been adequate green space in the area to walk them, according to Marty Coressel of the Rincon Point-South Beach Citizens Advisory Committee. Originally, the plan was to restore the old parking lot at Beale and Bryant streets, but three years ago the neighborhood intervened with a plea for the canine facility, Coressel said.
"The dog park is desperately needed," she said.
Although the toll authority will pay for the creation of the park, and The City’s Department of Public Works will oversee it, there is no funding available for regular maintenance of the site, leaving all the cleanup work to residents. Coressel said the neighborhood is committed to the project, as evidenced by recent volunteer efforts to pick up debris at the existing spot.
After dealing with unsightly construction work for the past several years, local residents are eagerly anticipating the improvements, said Katherine Webster, president of the South Beach/Mission Bay Business Association.
"We’re very much looking forward to the green space and the dog park," Webster said. "This will be a great addition to the neighborhood."
Goodwin did not have a timetable for when the park would be completed.
$4 million: Toll revenue set aside for landscape improvements in South of Market
$471 million: Total cost of retrofit for western span of Bay Bridge
2009: Year retrofit work on approach to western span was completed
Source: Bay Area Toll Authority