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Famous San Francisco street may see summer closing

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco transit leaders may decide whether to temporarily close a stretch of Lombard Street, a popular tourist spot that's known as the “Crookedest Street in The World.”

On Tuesday, the city's Municipal Transportation Agency could vote on a pilot closure of the oft-photographed, well-traveled curvy and winding thoroughfare for four consecutive weekends starting in late June and including the Fourth of July weekend during the busy summer tourist season.

About an average of 2,000 vehicles travel on the street during that period, the city said.

WHAT IS LOMBARD STREET?

The world famous scenic, hilly street that's been featured on TV, in movies_ and even video games _ is known for its one-block stretch of winding road that consists of eight sharp, hairpin turns. Attracting hundreds of thousands annually, tourists prefer to take snapshot panoramic views of the city at the top and then drive down the crooked street like it's an amusement park ride. It is perhaps the most popular tourist destination in San Francisco besides the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the Cable Cars and Fisherman's Wharf.

WHY WOULD THEY CLOSE IT?

The temporary closing idea came at the request of Supervisor Mark Farrell and a steady stream of complaints by residents wanting to curb the street's chronic gridlock mostly due to curious tourists, especially during the summer.

“This will be a test to improve the safety for residents, pedestrians and motorists in the area,” MTA spokesman Paul Rose said. “There are often a lot of people who come to either take pictures or drive down the street and it can cause lengthy delays.”

WHAT DO TOURISTS THINK?

Tourist Dylan Giordano, 21, of Los Angeles, agreed, as he took in the scenery Tuesday with his family visiting from Florida. “It's an insane amount of traffic and it must be difficult and obnoxious for the wealthy residents who live here and can't even get into their own driveway,” said Giordano, who just graduated from the University of Southern California with his degree in Environmental and Urban Planning.

WHAT WOULD BE THE IMPACT?

If approved, the city will evaluate what impact the temporary closure would have and may seek to shut down Lombard Street more often, said Rose, the MTA spokesman. While no permanent shutdown is being considered, the city may even seek legislation to have parts of the street to be used by residents only.

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