Big crowds expected in SF for Fleet Week

October 8, 2009 9:36:11 AM PDT
City officials are expecting more than 1 million people to participate in San Francisco's Fleet Week activities, and some changes along the city's waterfront may pose particular challenges this year.

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For one, the concrete bleachers near Aquatic Park are closed as part of a restoration project at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, park spokesman Lynn Cullivan said.

The three-year project also involves renovating the Aquatic Park Bathhouse, which contains the Maritime Museum and the San Francisco Senior Center, Cullivan said.

The closure of the bleachers means that the thousands of spectators who would normally sit there will have to find another place to watch the Blue Angels' air show, Cullivan said.

Some grassy areas between the museum and the bocce ball courts are taken up by construction trailers but Cullivan said there will still be spots available for viewers to set down their picnic blankets.

"The sloped part of grass where you'd tend to sit and watch is still open," he said.

Crissy Field will be open as usual, said Golden Gate National Recreation Area spokesman Rich Weideman. There will be 30-40 fewer parking spots due to construction at the East Beach parking lot, but Weideman said the rest of the lots should be operational.

Those with blue disabled placards will be able to use the western lot near Fort Point and a parking lot near the Coast Guard station on the Marin County side of the Bay at Fort Baker.

He advised those who want a spot on either side of the Bay to arrive early for the weekend air shows.

"Our parking starts filling up at roughly 10 a.m.," he said. Weideman pointed out that traffic along Crissy Field may be moving more slowly than in past years due to temporary closures in place at the Presidio for a one-month "traffic-calming" study.

Presidio Boulevard is closed to cars between West Pacific Avenue and Simonds Loop and the one-way, uphill portion of Crissy Field Avenue is also closed to vehicles, among other temporary measures.

Weideman said that when the air show begins, traffic stops moving altogether.

"When they start flying, everything comes to a screeching halt, it's just gridlock," he said.

Spectators can take transit - including San Francisco Municipal Railway's F-Market streetcar, which is free this Saturday and Sunday - but Weideman pointed out that buses and streetcars can get caught in traffic too.

The Fleet Week schedule can be viewed online at www.military.com/fleetweek.

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