Columbus Safety Plans Vetted By Community, Opposed By Merchant Leader

by  : sf.streetsblog – excerpt

Over two-thirds of the space on Columbus Avenue is devoted primarily to cars, yet only one-third of the people on the street are typically in automobiles.
That’s according to a 2010 study of how to improve the design of Columbus, in which residents and transportation planners came to the conclusion that North Beach’s thoroughfare needs calmer traffic and more space for pedestrians, transit, and bicycling. Now, three years later, as the SFMTA looks to finally implement the ideas laid out in the plan, some merchants and residents are pushing back, dismissing the extensive analysis and community planning already done.
Columbus is set to be re-paved next summer, presenting an opportunity to cost-effectively implement the concepts in the SF County Transportation Authority study, which include bulb-outs on Columbus’ narrow, crowded sidewalks and an on-street plaza — dubbed “Piazza St. Francis, the Poet’s Plaza” — on an adjacent block of Vallejo Street. At the intersection of Columbus, Green, and Stockton Streets, traffic islands would be added to simplify motor vehicle movements, diverting traffic off westbound Green and southbound Stockton (converting it to a one-way street north of Columbus).
With a road diet, one stretch of Columbus, between Green and Union Streets, would get transit-only lanes, while 8-foot-wide buffered bike lanes would be installed between Green and Washington Streets (although the bike lanes weren’t included in the SFCTA study, the traffic impacts of a road diet were)… (more)

North Beach wants holiday halt to subway work

Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

With the holiday season here, the Municipal Transportation Agency has paused some of the most visible and disruptive construction of the Central Subway in Union Square.
The long-closed stretch of Stockton Street between Geary and Market streets has been opened to relieve traffic – and pedestrian – congestion during the busy holiday shopping season.
But hey! What about us? say subway opponents and some business owners in North Beach and Chinatown…
No North Beach Dig held news conferences in Chinatown and North Beach on Tuesday to call for a holiday construction moratorium in North Beach as well, saying businesses near construction sites are seeing business drops as big as 50 to 70 percent during a busy time of the year, according to Howard Wong, another No North Beach Dig member.
“Union Square managed to get a moratorium and we did not,” Carnes said.
Not so, said Paul Rose, an MTA spokesman. All construction in North Beach was halted over Thanksgiving weekend, he said, and the same construction plan that pauses construction in Union Square for the holidays also stops work in the right-of-way at Columbus and Union streets in North Beach.
However, work in the parking lot of the Bank of America at 1455 Stockton St. and at the former site of the Pagoda Theatre at 1731-1741 Powell St., across the street from Washington Square, continue – with work hours extending to 11 p.m.
The complaining, of course, also continues… (more)

2 Neighborhoods – Different Treatments

You can help us by signing the petition:

Stop subway construction during the holidays.

San Francisco Central Subway Plans Move Forward

SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) is modifying part of its plan for the Central Subway Project that sparked opposition and lawsuits from North Beach residents. The original plan was to extract underground drilling equipment 2000 feet beyond the approved tunnel on Columbus Ave. between Filbert and Union Streets. Critics charged that that amounted to extending the subway without doing any environmental studies..
“I’m completely in support of the subway,” said Marc Bruno of Save North Beach, the organization filing a lawsuit against the project. “As soon as we know there won’t be any construction on Columbus [Ave.], we can retract the lawsuit…
Howard Wong from SaveMuni, the other group suing to stop the current project plan, says his concern is not just with the tourism traffic, but the projected change in demographic that could be brought on by the Central Subway…
“I do think moving construction to the Pagoda Theater as opposed to on Columbus Ave. is a better alternative,” Wong said. “But in the long run it is not beneficial to the city.”…   (more)

We were at the North Beach SFMTA Meeting and recorded the event. Clips are online for viewing here:  http://vimeo.com/groups/168462

SF Muni Considering Central Subway Expansion Into North Beach

Muni Chief Ed Reiskin is now examining the possibility of extending the 1.6 billion dollar central subway project beyond Chinatown, to an abandoned theater in the North Beach neighborhood. Phil Matir reports… (more)

Choose your version of this story. It is guaranteed to be out there somewhere in the news. Where will it (the tunnel) really end up? Only his holiness knows for sure, and he isn’t too sure either, what with no money and no plans, the SFMTA bores on, amid mounting legal disputes. No doubt the owners of the Pagoda Theater are betting on a big win.

Community Meeting on Alternatives to Planned Central Subway Tunnel Boring Machine Extraction in North Beach

Please Come to a Community Meeting on Alternatives to Planned Central Subway Tunnel Boring Machine Extraction in North Beach
Monday, Nov. 19th at 7:30 pm at Tel-Hi Gym
North Beach Community Meeting with MTA on possible alternatives to planned extraction of Central Subway tunnel boring machines on Columbus Ave.
Monday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Tel-Hi Neighborhood Center Gymnasium, 555 Chestnut St., or enter at 660 Lombard (Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center)
We have received a notice that the SF Municipal Transportation Agency & Supervisor David Chiu will be hosting a discussion on Monday, November 19th about possible alternatives to bringing the Central Subway boring machines out of the ground on Columbus at Washington Square Park.
View the MTA notice here: Central Subway Community Meeting Notice

THD and many others have been seeking alternatives to having the current Central Subway construction disruption to the heart of North Beach on Columbus Avenue continue for the next two years in order to extract the tunnelling equipment there, especially in light of the fact that the nearest subway station would be nearly a 1/2 mile away at Washington & Stockton.
Last week, THD and North Beach Neighbors sent a joint letter to the SFMTA asking why they have failed to thoroughly study alternatives to the highly disruptive Central Subway construction in North Beach as was promised.  View that letter here:  THD & NBN Joint Letter on Central Subway Construction. Download pdf flyer.

Please come to the community meeting on Monday evening to listen, ask questions, and help keep the pressure on the SFMTA & Supervisor Chiu to fulfill their promise of finding a less disruptive method of completing the Central Subway Project.
Mike Sonn, Chair, Transportation Committee – Mike.Sonn@thd.org
Telegraph Hill Dwellers , www.THD.org

Related rail story:
Obama’s New Cabinet Can Make Trains Run on Time
Plans were announced the day of the meeting on sf.streetsblog.org

Subway utlity work begins in North Beach despite lawsuit

abclocal.go.com – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the protests of neighbors — one of whom has sued the city — crews Monday are starting to relocate utility lines in North Beach as part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Central Subway project…

The planned work has prompted one man to file a lawsuit, and other neighbors and merchants who are angry about how the construction will affect them are threatening to file a second one.

Marc Bruno, a North Beach resident with the group Save North Beach, filed a lawsuit on July 31 asking a San Francisco Superior Court judge for an immediate temporary restraining order to block the project.

That request was denied last Thursday, but an injunction hearing is scheduled in the case on Aug. 29, Bruno said…

(more)

Related stories:
Despite Lawsuit, Central Subway Work Kicks Off In North Beach

We just learned that Marc Bruno is running for District 3 Supervisor, against President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, David Chiu.

As filing deadline passes, San Francisco supervisor races take shape

By: Joshua Sabatini : SFExaminer – excerpt

The players are finalized and all that remains now is the drama over who will emerge in November to serve on the Board of Supervisors for the next four years.
There are six open seats on the 11-member board, and after Friday’s 5 p.m. filing deadline there was little in the way of surprises. Perhaps the biggest suspense was whether a serious challenger would emerge to take on board President David Chiu, who represents District 3, which includes Chinatown and North Beach…

While Chiu won’t have those scrapes, he is facing upset hopefuls in architect Joseph Butler, who runs a private firm, and Marc Bruno, who just sued The City over Muni’s Central Subway project. Both candidates are taking on an incumbent who has already amassed $147,000 in campaign donations. Both men gave similar reasons for running: More attention needs to be given to the needs of residents.
“David is just not an on-the-street kind of guy,” Bruno said. “He’s well-intentioned, but he’s a technocrat.”
Butler said there is the need for a “neighborhood up government.”

(more)

Judge won’t halt Central Subway construction

By Kristen Go : SFGate.com – excerpt

A San Francisco Superior Court judge on Thursday denied a request for a pre-emptive halt to Central Subway-related construction work in North Beach that is scheduled to start Tuesday.

Marc Bruno, a North Beach resident, had sought a temporary restraining order mandating a 12-day delay, saying dust, noise and inconvenience from at least three months of work relocating utilities around the intersection of Union Street and Columbus Avenue would drive away customers and irreparably harm Washington Square businesses.

The larger issue is 10 months of additional construction in the area set to start in January on a retrieval shaft where machines boring the subway tunnel will exit the ground in the middle of Columbus Avenue. Bruno, who just hours after the hearing filed to run for supervisor in District Three, and a separate group of merchants and resident pursuing legal action contend the environmental impact report for the project, approved in 2008, didn’t adequately address the construction that is now planned.

Deputy City Attorney Audrey Pearson countered that the project has not changed from what the environmental report studied and that delaying the work would cost the city $25,000 a day in contractor payments.

The North Beach groups say they will continue their legal challenge…

(more)

Utility relocation starting in North Beach on August 13

Central Subway construction will take place on this block of Columbus Avenue near Washington Square Park.

Construction associated with the Central Subway tunnel will begin August 13 in North Beach. The work involves relocating utility lines on a half-block section of Columbus Avenue between Union and Powell streets.

The Central Subway tunnel is planned to extend past the last station in Chinatown to North Beach. When tunneling is complete, the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) will be removed from the ground on Columbus Avenue. The utility work is expected to take approximately four months to complete and is required to prepare for construction of the TBM retrieval shaft.

Surface construction activity will be take place on Columbus Avenue between Union and Powell streets, with some work at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Union Street. Construction hours will be Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To mitigate construction impacts, street sweeping will occur on a daily basis, dust and noise will be monitored and controlled, and a traffic control officer and a flagger will facilitate the flow of traffic during work hours…

(more)

Residents left to deal with Central Subway work

San Francisco Business Times – excerpt

Businesses and residents at San Francisco’s North Beach are struggling to deal with construction that has begun on the Central Subway, the San Francisco Chronicle reports…

(more)