The gateway to the Golden Gate Bridge since 1936, the ageing Doyle Drive was no longer capable of serving its 100,000 daily users. In designing a replacement, careful consideration was needed to minimise disruption for commuters and create a long-term transport solution in harmony with the landscape with minimal impacts on the Presidio National Park.

With 100,000 vehicles daily users, Doyle Drive was one of the most active stretches of road on Route 101. However, at nearly 75 years old, it was deteriorating and not up to current seismic code standards. Changes in city traffic flow patterns over decades had also made the existing roadway inefficient at matching traffic demand to and from the streets of San Francisco.

A long and winding road

The project came with significant challenges: our team would have to remove and replace the existing infrastructure, maintain commuter traffic during construction, preserve a national park, provide extensive public outreach and coordinate a large group of stakeholders. How could a single, purposeful design satisfy the landowner, environmental stewardship and historic preservation agencies, the local transportation agency, the state highways agency and local residents?

Every project is an opportunity to improve

The simple design idea that united everyone was to create not a highway, but a parkway. To create something capable of improving everyone’s experience, we worked closely with sponsors and stakeholders to develop the design concept for Presidio Parkway. We also developed a robust financial and project delivery plan that was affordable and minimised short- and long-term risks.

Construction began in August 2009 and substantial completion was achieved in 2015

The new 1.6 mile, six lane road and southbound auxiliary lane would serve as the southern access route to the Golden Gate Bridge along the northern edge of San Francisco. As well as providing consulting and financial advisory services, we carried out the roadway, tunnel design and geotechnical engineering.

Our priority was to keep San Francisco moving 

Two twin-bore tunnels were constructed beneath the parkway. The Battery Tunnel and the Main Post Tunnel both carry three lanes of traffic running in each direction and were constructed using cut-and-cover techniques. This is the most economical approach and it was used to lessen the impact of construction on local residents and those travelling through the area. We also restored pedestrian and bicycle links across Presidio National Park to reconnect its waterfront and inland areas.

Our team provided financial and technical advice

The client drew on the skills of our financial and technical specialists during the procurement process throughout the project’s second phase. Our analysis supported a recommendation that a design-build-finance-operate-maintain approach represented the best value for money, which became the basis upon which public approvals were granted to pursue a public-private partnership (P3) deal. 

The P3 has delivered the construction project on time and at a lower cost than the conventional procurement methods more commonly used in California. In addition, the long-term operations and maintenance contract will ensure that the roadway is safe and in good condition for the next thirty years.

Fundamentally, Presidio Parkway achieves a safe transition from a freeway to a city environment. It has shown how to do that in a way that also produces an elegant design. And in doing so, in calming the traffic to city street speeds, it’s achieving a much higher degree of community acceptance.

Jose Luis Moscovich

Director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority

The shape of sustainable roads to come

The Presidio Parkway is an important step in keeping Bay Area residents on the move – while minimising impact on San Francisco’s wider natural environment. The Presidio Parkway project was one of the first in the country to incorporate extensive sustainability features, setting it on a path to becoming the first Greenroads-Certified highway in the country.