Masonic Streetscape Project To Break Ground In June

by R. A. Schuetz : sf.streetsblog – exccerpt

In June 2013, funding to redesign Masonic Avenue from Fell to Geary was approved, after years of outreach by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and community organizing both for and against the project. Now, the construction, originally forecast to begin last May, is finally preparing break ground in June. It’s expected to last until late 2017…

The contract for the project was awarded to Shaw Pipelines for $18.3 million. Including soft costs and construction support, the project will cost a total of $26.1 million.

One of the major concerns for residents was the removal of 167 parking spaces on Masonic, to accommodate the raised bike lane, widened sidewalks, and enhanced bus stops. But before construction begins in June, 22 new back-in angled parking spaces will be added on Turk Street between Baker and Central.

According to the SFMTA, “Changes on some other streets under consideration are on hold, given operational and technical concerns expressed by members of the community and the San Francisco Fire Department.”…

The reason we are posting this story that ran in March is to emphasize the fact that there are technical as well as political issues involved in the pause in implementation  of the Masonic project. There may also be some litigation.

There are three important things to look at here, the number one being the “operational and technical concerns expressed by… the Fire Department. that effect emergency services. Quite a number of people from Planning Commissioners to Supervisors, to Federal representatives have voiced concern about the major traffic snarls in the city and some of them are addressing the issue of health and safety where the ability of emergency vehicles to transverse the city fast in emergency situations.

The SFMTA plans to slow traffic on Lombard, Van Ness, Masonic, 16th Street, Mission Street, Folsom, Potrero and Cesar Chavez. How is anyone supposed to get across town fast in an emergency situation? How can ambulances access hospitals?

We know there are slowdowns and there may have already been lawsuits over these delays. A lot of cases are settled against the SFMTA and the city all the time that are not covered in the press. We also know that the SFMTA and DPW have been required to fix some of the technical mistakes they have made in curb designs and bulbouts that effect the ability of their MUNI buses and other large vehicles to turn. Removing and narrowing the lanes is a major problem.There are state laws that specify lanes widths that are being ignored or excused on state streets.

Our city government is hard at work trying to change some of those laws. Using our city streets and SF citizens as guinea pigs under the guise of pilot programs is one way the SFMTA attempts to skirt state laws and regulations. We will be looking into this later.

Money is a big issue this year. SFMTA claims they can do more with less, even though they are broke. We have seen no record on how much these mistakes are costing or how these errors are being paid for. Where on the budget do we find these fixes?

Stay turned for an OpEd that will attempt to take these matter into account as we go into the budget period in which the Mayor has asked all departments to cut back, due to a shortage of revenue this year.



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