Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Presidio Tunnel Tops project?
Twenty-five years ago, visionary Bay Area leaders, urban planners, and citizens were faced with replacing the seismically unsafe Doyle Drive, a highway to the Golden Gate Bridge that divided the Presidio’s waterfront from its historic core. The community did not seek simply to rebuild a freeway – it dreamed of moving the road underground into tunnels so that a powerful new experience of the Presidio and San Francisco Bay could take shape above. Today, Doyle Drive has given way to the elegant
Presidio Parkway. Through the Presidio Tunnel Tops project, we’re poised to create a beautiful 14-acre green space atop the new roadway tunnels and in the surrounding landscapes – replacing a freeway with free play.
How will this project benefit the community?
The Presidio Tunnel Tops will be San Francisco’s great escape, a place where visitors will connect with nature and the outdoors, where kids will play and grow, and where all of us will be inspired by 360-degree views that were never before possible. The Presidio Tunnel Tops will be where we can find refuge from the stresses of urban life without ever leaving the city we love. It will be a welcoming oasis where we can slow down, live in the moment, regain our sense of wellbeing, and re-connect. It will be the place where visitors can begin their day in the park, finding information and inspiration to explore all the Presidio has to offer.
Learn more about the design >>
Who is leading the effort?
The Presidio Tunnel Tops project is being brought to life through the collaboration of three organizations and with generous support from the community. The
Presidio Trust is the lead agency, directing the planning, design, and construction effort and managing community outreach and engagement. The
Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, the non-profit partner to the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service, serves as the philanthropic and community engagement partner and supports park restoration and enhancement, education, and visitor service projects and programs. The
National Park Service is engaged as the manager of the adjacent parklands at Crissy Field and as a partner in interpretation, visitor services, and programming.
Who is designing the Presidio Tunnel Tops?
The lead designer is
James Corner Field Operations (JCFO), a world renowned landscape architecture design firm with headquarters in New York City and an office in San Francisco. JCFO is best known for the much-acclaimed High Line.
Learn more about James Corner and the entire design and construction team >>
Why is this project happening now?
This project is taking advantage of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reverse a decision – made for good reasons nearly 80 years ago – to build a freeway through the Presidio.
In 1936, Doyle Drive, the highway connecting San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge, was built through the Presidio. It was elevated above ground so that civilian vehicles would not interfere with Army operations in the military post. Unfortunately, the freeway blocked both the view and access to the northern waterfront from the heart of the Presidio.
When it came time to replace the seismically unsafe Doyle Drive in the 1990s, the Army was preparing to depart the Presidio. City leaders envisioned a less visually obtrusive roadway that would fit the Presidio’s future role as a national park. The solution was a roadway that follows the natural contour of the Presidio’s existing bluff, but creates beautiful new open space above the new tunnels - the elegant Presidio Parkway.
Today, the Presidio Parkway is largely complete, and we are creating a new experience of the park on a spectacular 14-acre site. The Presidio Tunnel Tops will be where we can escape from the stresses of urban life without ever leaving the city we love. Learn more about the design >>
What is the environmental and historic compliance process for this project?
As part of the process of transforming the Presidio Tunnel Tops site, the Presidio Trust is required to undertake environmental and historic preservation analysis to ensure that the effort considers any impacts to the Presidio’s rich natural and cultural resources. To that end, the Presidio Trust, in collaboration with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service – Golden Gate National Recreation Area, has prepared an environmental assessment (EA) for the project under the National Environmental Policy Act and a Finding of Effect (FOE) under the National Historic Preservation Act. Consultation with key agencies on this effort is ongoing.
View the project documents >>
How much will the project cost and how is it being funded?
The project cost is $100 million dollars and is being funded largely with philanthropic contributions from generous community donors. In early phases of fundraising, seven major gifts have resulted in $35 million toward the goal.
How can I contribute to the project?
For information about contributing to this significant civic effort, please contact Kathryn Morelli, Vice President for Development for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 561-3050.
Learn more about who has funded the project to date and how you can lend your support >>
Who in the community is supporting this effort?
Civic leaders representing all aspects of our diverse community are supporting this effort.
Read what they have to say about the Presidio Tunnel Tops >>
How can I learn more about the project, and share my ideas and feedback?
Since 2014, thousands of people have shaped the Presidio Tunnel Tops. As we wrap up the design phase and continue planning for future programs and activities, we continue to invite your participation!
Is the site currently occupied by Sports Basement part of the project?
The site currently occupied by Sports Basement is not part of the Presidio Tunnel Tops project. Sports Basement is a long-term and valued tenant of the Presidio. Their lease will keep them in the Presidio at their current location for the foreseeable future, and we will work with them to keep them in the park as long as possible in the right location.
What public programs will be offered at the Presidio Tunnel Tops?
The Presidio currently offers a wide range of free events and programs for all ages, including musical events, talks, history and nature walks, kid-friendly crafts, outdoor festivals, and more. See the
calendar of current programs. A range of
volunteer opportunities are also offered.
The Presidio Tunnel Tops will create many new opportunities for small events, informal gathering, and learning. Our goal is to host events that welcome people from our diverse community, that serve kids and families, and that invite the public to experience views, nature, history, and the chance to relax, renew, and play.
Also, by reestablishing
Crissy Field Center at its original location and expanding its facilities, the project will bolster school, community, and public programs. The “playscape” will provide experiences in nature that allow children to discover, to play, and to connect to the outdoors in new ways. It will allow children to develop a sense of mastery over the outdoors and begin a life-long connection to their environment.
When will the Presidio Tunnel Tops be open to the public?
The opening celebration is planned for 2019, coinciding with the Presidio’s 25th anniversary as a national park.
How much will it cost to visit the site?
The Presidio Tunnel Tops will be open to all – for free.