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The future of the Great Highway: Three takeaways

A man bikes on the Great Highway in April 2022. | SFSU Multimedia Journalism Class

With eastern JFK Drive going permanently car-free, the Great Highway is likely the next large road to see a similar fate. The Standard worked with a multimedia journalism class at San Francisco State University to lay out the stakes and potential options for the iconic thoroughfare. 

Click here to read the full story and watch video interviews from student journalists at SFSU. Or, check out the summary below. 

Sunset residents are divided on the future of the Great Highway.

Head out on any given weekend and you’ll see bikers and walkers enjoying the Great Highway free of cars. But not everyone likes the closures or wants the road turned into a park. In fact, a new San Francisco Standard poll found just 35% of registered voters support closing some streets to cars. 

The weekends-only car-free space could expire any day. 

Supervisor Gordon Mar is working on a bill that would keep the road closed to cars on the weekends for at least the next year. During the height of the pandemic, Mar pushed to close the Great Highway to give Sunset residents a place to safely go outside. In August 2021, he and Mayor London Breed worked to reopen it on weekdays in time for the start of the new school year. But as soon as the Covid state of emergency in the city ends, the road will go back to being fully open to cars—so Mar is working now to codify the weekends-only closure. 

One supervisor hopes the road’s fate will be decided by 2023. 

Ultimately, Mar supports the Great Highway’s round-the-clock closure to cars—so long as it comes with improvements to neighboring streets and traffic management. One driving factor (no pun intended) is the planned closure of the southern portion between Sloat and Skyline boulevards that’s slated for 2023. Whatever the decision for the future of the highway, it will have to get the support of a majority of supervisors, much like the now-car-free JFK Drive.