Toll charge proposed for crooked Lombard Street

It may start costing money to drive down the world's ‘crookedest’ street, the one-block stretch of Lombard Street with tight turns and its pretty-as-a-postcard views.

But its growing popularity with tourists has created a neighborhood nuisance in recent years. It has created traffic backups and safety concerns.

"They'll go fast down the hill; they're standing up taking pictures. The music is blasting," said longtime resident Terry Trapani. 

We saw for ourselves as a car took those turns pretty quickly, tires screeching.

To help ease congestion, especially on weekends and the summer, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell is proposing charging a toll.

Farrell is proposing a toll and reservation system that might limit traffic to 220 vehicles per hour. A two-year study on the proposal released today by the San Francisco Transportation Authority says that would
eliminate backups.

Drivers would make reservations and pay through Fastrak, although how much to charge is still being studied.

"The point is not to eliminate tourism here. The point is to manage it so people who live here and in surrounding neighborhoods have a normal quality of life," said Farrell.

One visitor from Michigan said he wouldn't pay any more than $5 to drive down Lombard Street.
Most tourists said they would skip the drive rather than pay a toll.

Residents we spoke with seemed lukewarm to skeptical.

"It’s a first step," said Trapani.

How do you resolve the problem of friends coming over for lunch or family coming to visit," wondered resident Mary Moore.

Charging a toll on a city street would first need approval from the state legislature. Then the city's transportation commission, made up of members of the board of supervisors, would also have to approve it.

The city is also looking into what to do about all the pedestrians.

"Two million visitors a year—double what Muir Woods gets. We have zero infrastructure in place," said Farrell.
Farrell says implementing a toll would be at least two years away.

The money would go towards neighborhood improvements.