Every once in a while I get asked “so when will the SFMTA finish that Sunset Tunnel work?” (particularly by those living near said tunnel.) I emailed a few questions off to Mr. Paul Rose at the SFMTA, and got a response the other day. Good news: the improvements are working so far. Bad news: This would have been completed had it not been for a legal temper tantrum by a few people.
There’s no denying that the N runs a lot smoother now through the tunnel than it did before. However, the repairs and other work weren’t just about a smooth ride – they were also about ensuring the tunnel’s continued safety, particularly during an earthquake. Fifteen weekends were deemed necessary to complete the work – of which ten are done. That’s good!
Now here comes a case study in How the City of SF Bends Over Backwards for a Few Malcontents – the project still needs five more weekends to finish. Due to a few people filing a legal injunction, the project lost six weekends. In other words, had the Furious Few not filed their injunction, the work would be done. Combine this with delays due to the Mayor’s conference, the AIDS walk and other events that wouldn’t have intersected with the work had it stayed on schedule, and the ripple effect of the NIMBYs becomes evident.
The worst of it is – it wasn’t necessary. Remember, the work started in 2014, then took a break for the winter holiday season. If the noise was the cacophony of mayhem that was alleged in the legal action, those claiming such could have addressed the SFMTA in this interim period. Steps later adtopeted to prevent noise after the legal action could have been taken earlier, so when the work began again in 2015, no delays would have happened.
This, of course goes against the prevailing attitude in San Francisco, where the loud cry of the few, or the one, willing to throw a temper tantrum get all the “juice” from City Hall. Unfortunately, as we see now, such “tantrums” have consequences, fiscal and otherwise, that affect us all.
PS: Years ago, Woody La Bounty of the Western Neighborhoods Project wrote a wonderful guest post about local reaction to the tunnel at the time it was approved. He and the many good people of the WNP deserve your support!