Begin The Delays: SF Breaks Ground On Van Ness Improvement Project (PHOTO)
(BANT) – San Francisco officials broke ground Wednesday on a project that will eventually shorten bus travel times and improve pedestrian safety on Van Ness Avenue, one of the cities busiest traffic and transit corridors.
The Van Ness Improvement Project will include the city’s first bus rapid transit system along two miles of Van Ness between Mission and Lombard streets, with physically separated bus lanes and boarding stations.
It will also include safety improvements including sidewalk extensions, protected medians and better crosswalks and countdown signals, as well as new landscaping and lighting.
“This marks a significant step forward in making transit faster and more reliable on Van Ness Avenue,” Mayor Ed Lee said. “We will be improving a crucial travel corridor in San Francisco. When this project is completed, everyone can enjoy a safer, better Van Ness Avenue.”
The project is expected to reduce transit travel times by as much as one-third.
Board of Supervisors President London Breed said that students traveling to school on Van Ness will no longer be able to use slow bus times as an excuse for lateness, as she did when she was in high school.
“This is going to be one of the most important transit projects in our city,” Breed said.
Before it is completed in 2019, however, drivers will need to endure several years of traffic delays and changes in the area, including the elimination of most left turns.
Preliminary work began in the fall and the first phase of construction will involve an overhaul of underground utilities, including the replacement of more than 22,000 feet of water mains dating back to the 1800s, the installation of a new, seismically safe sewer system and improvements to the emergency firefighter water system.
Van Ness will be reduced from three to two lanes of travel in each direction during construction and parking will also be affected.
“For the next three years, just avoid Van Ness altogether,” Breed joked, but added, “When it’s done, you are going to be thanking us.”