The Panhandle at the end of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

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Freeway Closures And Huge Marijuana Party Could Mess With Weekend Traffic

KCBS Radio Traffic And Event Guide Helps Weed Out The Good From The Bad

Bob Pryor
April 19, 2019 - 2:44 am

KCBS Radio traffic reporter Bob Pryor is back with the latest edition of his inimitable Major Timesaver guide to weekend traffic and events around the Bay Area. If you're geared up to get out or wondering what might slow you down on Saturday and Sunday, you'll want to check out this report every Friday afternoon.

To get it sent straight to your phone, download the app and "favorite" this station. And, of course, you can always listen to live traffic updates around the clock "on the eights" on 106.9 FM and 740 AM. 

It seems like it's festival time this weekend. There's a music-intensive street fair in San Jose this weekend, while San Francisco, not to be outdone, has an Earth Day Festival; the concluding weekend of the Cherry Blossom Festival; a Union Street Easter celebration; and the colorful cannabis celebration, 420 in the Park.

On the traffic front, there are some important interruptions for drivers and CalTrain riders to take into account. CalTrain will not be traveling all the way into San Francisco while the Sunol Grade on I-680 will be shut overnight while all lanes on I-780 heading west will be closed just north of the Benicia Bridge early on Sunday. 


Sun, Apr 21 from 2pm into the evening: San Jose: “SOFA Street Fair ’19: Easter Edition.” This 3-block admission-free fair happens twice a year, in the spring and fall, and is centered around South First Street and William Street. Boasts 107 different bands playing on 17 stages.

  • Pro tip: South First Street will be closed to traffic between San Carlos and Reed Streets, along with portions of San Salvador Street and William Street. Through traffic will be permitted on Market Street and on South Second Street.
  • Areas and roadways affected: In addition to the closures of South First Street, San Salvador Street, and William Street, there will be generally heavy traffic in downtown San Jose.


Sun, Apr 21 from 12:30am-8:30am: The Sunol Grade, the over-the-big-hill stretch of I-680 between Sunol and Fremont, will be completely closed in both directions as Caltrans contractors demolish the old Sheridan Road overpass. 

  • Pro tip: The good news is, this will only affect those drivers traveling the Sunol Grade overnight, from a little past Saturday midnight until 8:30 on Sunday morning. The bad news is, it’s a full freeway closure in both directions and a lot of Sunday morning drivers will be surprised by it. 
  • Areas and roadways affected: Southbound traffic will be detoured to the Andrade Road off-ramp to Mission Road and back 680. Northbound traffic will be detoured to the Sheridan Road off-ramp to Mission Road before getting back to the freeway. 


Sat, Apr 20 and Sun, Apr 21: Due to electrification work, CalTrain will only go as far north as Bayshore Station. North of Bayshore, a free bus bridge will serve 22nd Street Station and the San Francisco Station at 4th and Townsend Streets. The San Francisco Station lobby will remain open for access to ticket machines, Clipper Add Value machines, and restrooms. There will be no such access at the 22nd Street Station, so riders will need to buy tickets at Bayshore Station. Cllick here for more details. 

  • Pro tip: There will be three more summer weekends when this two-station closure will be in effect: May 4-5; June 1-2; and June 22-23. .


Sat, Apr 20 from 11am-7pm: San Francisco’s Earth Day Festival, traditionally held at the Civic Center, is now on Valencia Street between 19th and 20th Streets, in the Mission District. There will be live bands, deejays, environmental speakers, hands-on eco workshops, a sustainable fashion show, a chef zone, a kids’ zone, and hundreds of non-profit booths providing information about environmental problems and solutions, transportation issues, health care, etc. This year’s theme will be “Celebrate the Green New Deal.”

Sat, Apr 20 from 10am-6pm: Golden Gate Park. The big annual marijuana event, “420 in the Park”, takes place at the eastern end of the park, in the area of Hippie Hill/Robin Williams Meadow. It’s admission-free but adults-only. Nowadays, the event is sponsored, which means there are food vendors, port-o-potties, and a sound system with deejays Thousands of people are expected to attend, with crowds starting to get really large around 2pm. Authorities have issued safety warnings for this year's event., according to KCBS Radio's Holly Quan. 

  • Pro tip: This is one of those events where, if you’re not there specifically to attend the event, you’ll want to give the whole area a nice, wide berth. There will be mulitple street closure beginning at 10am. Drivers who normally use Lincoln Way, Fell, or Oak streets to travel between the Sunset District and downtown can expect very long delays. Major delays are also anticipated for Fulton Street east and west of Stanyan Street. And Kezar Drive will likely be closed from early afternoon until early evening.
  • Areas and roadways affected: The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood; the Panhandle; potentially any streets close to the eastern end of Golden Gate Park.

Sat, Apr 20 and Sun, Apr 21 from 10am-6pm: San Francisco’s Japantown hosts the 52nd Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival. The event features traditional Japanese art and culture, such as tea ceremonies and Taiko drumming, plus pop culture, such as anime and J-pop. 

  • Pro tip: For maps and other general information about getting there, the festival’s Transportation and Parking webpage is here.
  • Areas and roadways affected: Several streets in San Francisco’s Japantown will be closed to traffic; and, on Sunday after 1pm, Polk Street and Post Street from the Civic Center to Japantown. 

Sun, Apr 21 from 10am-5pm: San Francisco: 28th Annual Union Street Spring Celebration and Easter Parade.  The celebration is on Union Street between Gough and Fillmore Streets. Some of Union Street’s best restaurants will serve food in an outdoor bistro setting. For the kids, there’ll be photos with the Easter Bunny, pony rides, a petting zoo, etc.

  • Pro tip: Muni’s 41-Union and 45-Union/Stockton bus lines both travel from downtown San Francisco to the Union Street area. If you’re going to drive, some Yelpers have opinions on local parking garages.
  • Areas and roadways affected: A number of streets in the Union Street retail corridor will be closed from early morning until 11pm (For a complete listing of street closures, go here


Sat, Apr 20 from 1am-6am: Westbound I-780 just north of the Benicia Bridge, Caltrans will close all westbound lanes for bridge maintenance. There will be changeable message signs alerting motorists and detour signs in place.

  • Pro tip: Since it ends at 6am Saturday morning, this 5-hour freeway closure is unlikely to create huge backups, but it’s the sort of thing you’ll want to know about before you travel northbound on the Benicia Bridge and suddenly find yourself looking at a closed westbound I-780. Caltrans is usually good about detour signage. 
  • Areas and roadways affected: Possible heavy traffic on the detour route.