Geary & Van Ness Avenues are two of the most congested thoroughfares in San Francisco. In certain stretches, current traffic moves as slow as an average speed of 7 miles per hour. This is in addition to the strained relations between private vehicles and public busses changing lanes on a regular basis. Because of these challenges, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency is working hard to revamp these two boulevards by inserting the City’s first ever bus rapid transit lines. Extensive construction is currently underway and is expected to continue through 2019.
The Van Ness project will be the first to get things started. Median’s and overhead electric lines for busses will be removed, while also preserving trees which are currently there. In addition, the opportunity to also replace the City’s aging sewer and water system will also be taken advantage of. Once this work is completed, traffic will be moved to the outside lanes while work begins on the construction of the of the rapid transit system itself. 210 new city trees will also be added to the thoroughfare for general beautification.
The Geary Project will be the next one up on the block. It is still in the planning stages but is already being granted environmental approval from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, with federal approval expected later this year. Though it’s still in the planning stages, the project on Geary is expected to resemble the project already underway on Van Ness Ave. This includes such improvements as bus-only lanes, more accessible bus stops, traffic signal upgrades, and utility upgrades.
Property Owners of buildings along these two corridors are split in their appreciation of the schedule projects. The long-term construction has reduced street parking and increased the amount of noise and traffic in these areas. Some fear that the traffic will not get any better once the projects have been completed because the bus-only lanes will reduce available lanes and prohibit turns for several blocks at a time.
However, those who support the projects are excited about the increase of public transportation to such congested areas of town. This will make it easier for the constant influx of new tenants coming from out of town to leave their cars behind, thus increasing quicker, safer travel. Research shows that tenants greatly prefer to be near public transportation so these improvements have been welcomed by the majority of the people who actually live in these communities. This may increase the property value of these homes, and therefore prove beneficial, even to the Owners who are currently not enthusiastic about the proposed changes.
* Primary notes based on article “High-Speed Changes” in SF Apartment Magazine, June 2017 (p. 24)