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Super Bowl committee backs off plans to remove Muni wires

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A project rendering of the Super Bowl City on Market Street. (Courtesy NFL Super Bowl 50 Host Committee)
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Muni wires will not come down for the Super Bowl.

A representative of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee apparently said in a phone call to Supervisor Jane Kim’s office that after some analysis the committee decided it would not move through with plans to remove Muni wires.

There was no mention during the phone call of the public backlash to the plan, according to Kim’s office.

Super Bowl Host Committee spokesman Nathan Ballard confirmed that information, telling the Examiner, “We’ve decided to reconfigure the Super Bowl City.”

The decision came after “sitting down and talking with Muni,” Ballard said. “We had never taken a final decision to take down the wires, but we want to be good partners with Muni.”

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At a press conference Wednesday morning for the Super Bowl, SFMTA Director of Transit Ed Reiskin also metioned the wires would not come down, amid a larger speech he was giving about transportation for the Super Bowl.

“To address an issue that’s been out there, there’s been a lot of talk about the site at the Embarcadero and Muni overhead wires,” Reiskin said. “The issue with the wires is, if there is a structure close to the wires, it’s not safe. As we’ve been ‘iterating’ with them, they’ve been able to redesign their structures for the village so it will not require removal of overhead wires.”

“It would’ve caused some disruption,” he said. Now, “that won’t be an issue.”

That issue rose to prominence last week, after the San Francisco Examiner first reported the committee was in works with the Mayor’s Office to remove Muni wires near Market Street, at Steuart Street, for its upcoming Super Bowl City.

The “fan village” at Justin Herman Plaza would host games, music and other amenities to celebrate the Super Bowl in Santa Clara.

The plan to remove Muni wires drew ire from San Franciscans across the board.

More than 200 emails flooded the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages Muni, to lambast the plan. San Franciscans against the plan also contacted Supervisor Kim’s office, and the Examiner.

Removing the wires would’ve required numerous Muni lines to switch to motor coaches, and could have completely halted the historic F-Market & Wharves streetcar line.

Ballard said they could find space for the taller structures that will be “just as good as the original location, and avoid removal of the wires, and disruption of Muni service.”

The structures are part of the “family-friendly, fun exhibits” clustered at Super Bowl City, Ballard said, though the specific design of the structures will only be revealed shortly before the event.

A solution to reconfigure the Super Bowl City, instead of the wires, he said, was “the practical solution.”

Supervisor Kim released the following statement:

“I’m gratified that the Super Bowl 50 committee took another look at the idea of removing overhead Muni wires for the Super Bowl festival, and decided not to pursue that idea,” the statement reads.

“The impact on commute times and work productivity for the folks that make San Francisco work would have been burdensome, not to mention the possible consequences for bicyclist and pedestrian safety. Those were my greatest concerns, so I’m happy that this was resolved.”

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