Cars and pedestrians clog the curvy section of Lombard Street, a popular tourist destination. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Cars and pedestrians clog the curvy section of Lombard Street, a popular tourist destination. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Pilot program for Lombard Street toll nears approval

Funding to create a toll system on the part of Lombard known as The City’s “crookedest street,” is on its way.

Assembly Bill 1605, authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D- San Francisco), still awaits Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature to grant state authorization for a toll pilot on Lombard Street.

In the meantime, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority board approved $700,000 on Tuesday morning to fund the toll program. A second, final vote is expected in the coming weeks, but is largely considered a formality.

That tolling and reservation system was pitched as a way to alleviate crushing crowds of cars known to snake through the neighborhood surrounding the section of Lombard between Hyde and Leavenworth streets, creating headaches for Russian Hill residents.

By asking drivers to reserve a time to drive down Lombard in advance, transportation officials hope to lessen traffic congestion near Lombard Street.

The funding approved by the transportation authority board on Tuesday will go toward procuring a vendor to operate the reservation system, as well as toward designing and testing the reservation pilot program.

“I really believe this is going to provide relief everybody has been longing for,” Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who represents the district that includes Lombard, told the San Francisco Examiner Tuesday. “It’s not just the neighbors but the tourists who show up to something beautiful and iconic in San Francisco and have to wait for hours and hours.”

The project’s total cost is estimated to be $2.2 million. The authorized $700,000 is on top of $250,000 the transportation authority previously approved to study the reservation and toll system.

“I’m happy to see that the [transportation authority] is eager to move forward with a reservation and pricing system on Lombard Street,” Ting said in a statement. “It shows their commitment to managing traffic in the neighborhood that has long been troubled by congestion and other safety issues. We now await the Governor’s signature on my bill, AB 1605, to allow this pilot program to begin.”

Newsom’s deadline to sign state bills is Oct. 13. Without his signature or veto, a bill becomes law.

Data shows the average daily traffic in 1999 at 1,560 vehicles. But by 2015, that number ballooned to more than 2,700 vehicles a day, the Examiner previously reported.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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