Tourists to be charged for driving on the ‘Crookedest Street in the World’

The thousands of tourists who each year drive down San Francisco’s famous crooked street could soon have to pay for the privilege.

Local residents have long complained that the road, real name Lombard Street, feels more like an overcrowded amusement park than a neighbourhood thoroughfare.

During the summer an estimated 6,000 people a day visit the 600-foot-long street.

Now city officials have announced a bill that would give San Francisco the authority to establish a toll and reservation system for the road, in an effort to reduce crowds and traffic congestion.

The fee, which could be up to $10 (£7.63), would be used to help sustain the reservations system, pay for more traffic control officers, increased police patrols in the area and tourism ambassadors.


The hairpin bends were created because of the steepness of the road

Assemblyman Phil Ting, who drafted the proposed legislation, said: “We must implement a system that enables both residents and visitors to enjoy the ‘Crookedest Street in the World’.”

The city needs state approval to charge people to use a public road but it would be up to San Francisco officials to determine how and what to charge and how to use the funds.

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The new toll system is not expected to be in place before 2020.

The road’s hairpin bends were built in 1922 because the 27-degree gradient was too steep for the cars of the time to get up.

                              Tourists to be charged for driving on the 'Crookedest Street in the World'

Residents added gardens in the 1950s

After the Second World War gardens filled with hydrangeas and roses were added by local residents making it one of the city’s top tourist attractions.

Greg Brundage, president of the Lombard Hill Improvement Association, who has lived on the street for 22 years, welcomed the proposed toll.

“The cars really impact the neighbourhood because they line up, they back up, they are sitting idling,” he said.

He added: “This is a pilot program but we’re really excited this day has come.”

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