Union Street Merchants upset with Van Ness BRT project

By John Zipperer : marinatimes – excerpt

Gridlock by SFMTA. photos by zrants

The ongoing Van Ness Transit Corridor Improvement Project has a clumsy name only a bureaucrat could love, and many merchants on Union Street definitely don’t love one of the project’s features: the loss of a left-turn onto Union Street from Van Ness. They say it has hurt business on their street because of a loss of traffic; drivers on Van Ness just find it easier to drive onward and shop elsewhere. One idea being mooted is seeking about $1.5 million in compensation from the city for their loss of business…

Henry Karnilowicz, president of the San Francisco Council of District Merchants Associations, said that billions of dollars are being spent on the many street changes and improvements across the city. “And here they’re talking about giving 1.5 million? That’s nothing,” he said. “That’s a drop in the bucket.”…

Karnilowicz doesn’t know what will happen regarding compensation, but the situation is not going to go away. He points to a presentation by the city’s Controller’s Office, which studied the impact on local businesses of similar construction projects by measuring the change in sales taxes; in one, West Portal, there was a 12 percent drop in sales tax. “That’s like a 12 percent [decline] in income,” Karnilowicz says; for some businesses, “that’s what their profit margin is.”…(more)

This is the Union Street Merchants. How about the ones on Van Ness Avenue an Polk Street that are still struggling to stay afloat? There is talk of tearing up Polk Street again. WHY? Can’t the supervisors stop this constant disaster from killing our city?

Quit blaming the internet for the demise of our retail businesses. We have been dealing with the internet for decades and only now are the businesses suffering. high rents and street closures are putting the final nail and the retail coffin. We are losing big corporate store like the Gap as well as small local businesses so this is not a matter of size.

We suggest everyone scream NO MORE DISRUPTIONS!
STOP NEW DISRUPTIONS ON OUR STREETS UNTIL THE CURRENT ONES ARE DONE AND OUR STREETS AND TRAFFIC ARE MOVING SMOOTHLY AGAIN. Contacts for City Hall

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Muni Construction Project Snarls Stretches Of Van Ness

cbslocal – excerpt – (includes video)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — One of the most traveled streets in San Francisco and the Bay Area is getting transformed, but the construction project is turning some sections of Van Ness Avenue into parking lots.

The three-year construction project spans from Lombard Street all the way to Mission Street.

The SFMTA has released drawings of what Van Ness Avenue will look like in the future… (more)

Who are they kidding. This is all about spending money. Our money on their projects. Voters voted against the sales tax. That should slow them down.

Nightmare coming to Van Ness

by Chris Parkes : beyondchron – excerpt

Halloween has passed, but the nightmare has just begun. This week, most left turns, 2 car lanes, many parking spaces, 50 year old trees, and perhaps your sanity, will be permanently lost from Van Ness… aka Highway 101!

Unlike a bad dream, however, the ill effects of the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project will not go away when construction ends. The BRT project will remove two car lanes from the middle of Van Ness and convert them into two bus only lanes.  This well intended transit project has been misapplied, however. There are few, if any, other existing BRT projects constructed in the middle of a condensed, congested section of highway with so many closely spaced major arterial cross intersections as we have on Van Ness.

After 3 years, construction will be complete, but the frustration will remain, as drivers, residents, and transit riders become aware that the changes are permanent.

The project sponsor will argue that the impacts are positive. Are they?

What are we getting? Even if you ride the bus all the way from Market to Lombard, your typical ride today is 15-19 minutes.  How much time will you save for this huge expense?  3 minutes?  2 minutes?  Less?

What else will we get? Traffic jams, increased fumes. Loss of half-century old trees.  You’ll have to board the bus from the narrow median…(more)

I hope all the people who voted against L enjoy this traffic mess.

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As Bus Rapid Transit Construction Begins, Prepare For Van Ness To Become A Daily Nightmare


Construction kicks off this month on the long-awaited, much-debated Van Ness BRT (bus rapid transit) project, in which the heavily trafficked boulevard is going to lose the two center lanes of traffic to bus lines. The move is a reversal of what happened in the middle of the last century, when the two center lanes had been used by streetcars, whose tracks were removed to make way for more automobile traffic. And as the SFMTA explains, both Van Ness and nearby Polk Street will be undergoing multi-year construction projects within weeks, which will mean the shutting down of two center lanes on Van Ness and a lot of sluggish trips up both streets if you make the mistake of letting your Uber/Lyft driver take them.

The traffic lane closures along Van Ness, which will allow for construction equipment and the removal of the median as well as 193 trees, will primarily occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, the SFMTA tells us, however there will be night and weekend work at various times too, because: traffic. Also, most left turns off of Van Ness will be disallowed.

The Polk Streetscape Project doesn’t involve the closing of any traffic lanes, but will involve a large amount of daytime upheaval and construction all along the street — in addition to the removal of 106 parking spaces along the corridor and 28 on side streets, essentially meaning you will never park near here again. It’s good news for pedestrians and cyclists, however, as the improvements include “sidewalk corner bulb-outs, to shorten the crossing distance, ADA-compliant curb ramp upgrades; Muni bus stop optimization, such as bus stop consolidation or relocation, bus bulb-outs for easier boarding, and left and right turn lanes to improve traffic flow; raised cycle tracks, green bike lanes… high visibility crosswalks, [and] better visibility at crosswalks.” They also promise a “well-lit plaza atmosphere, widening of the existing sidewalk, decorative asphalt, raised crosswalks, traffic calming measures, and [the] planting of palm trees.”

Meanwhile, it seems like the fight is likely over for preservationists making a last-ditch effort to save the crumbling, history trolley poles/lampposts along the corridor, which were installed in 1915 and were once known as the “Ribbon of Light” (see historic photo here). All but a couple of the poles are set to be removed and replaced with modern steel-tube urban lamps…(more)

If this upheaval doesn’t convince people to vote Yes on L and No on J + K nothing ever will.

 

Muni sets date to begin Van Ness BRT construction

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

Construction of San Francisco’s first bus rapid transit system will now start in November after transit officials said it would break ground on the project this summer.

A subcontractor dispute led to the delayed start of construction along Van Ness Avenue, said Paul Rose, spokesman for the Municipal Transportation Agency.

SFMTA documents show that The City’s Public Utilities Commission and a subcontractor chosen to do sewer and water line replacement work could not agree upon a price for the work. Instead, the Public Utilities Commission decided to bid the work out.

The SFMTA’s Board of Directors at its Aug. 16 meeting approved a contract amendment with Walsh Construction Company II, LLC, which is overseeing the construction of the project, to allow the company to begin work.

The Van Ness Improvement Corridor Project will include dedicated center-running transit lanes for Muni’s 47-Van Ness and 49-Van Ness/Mission routes that officials said will help improve reliability and reduce transit travel time for Muni riders by over 30 percent. Both routes currently serve about 45,000 riders a day.

Buses will change to low-floor buses and new station platforms will be able to accommodate riders waiting for the bus and for two buses to load and unload passengers at the same time.

Improvements such as pedestrian countdown timers, pedestrian bulb-outs and eliminating most left turns on the Van Ness Avenue corridor are also part of the project.

SFMTA documents show that primary bus rapid transit portion of the project will cost $189.5 million, which includes the cost of procuring new buses…

The total cost of all the improvements along the Van Ness Avenue corridor is $316.4 million, according to SFMTA documents. Funds for the project will come from federal grants, state funds, revenue bonds, local Proposition K funds and local funds from the Public Utilities Commission.

Officials began the bus consolidation portion of the project in June so that riders and Muni operators can get used to the changes before the opening of the bus rapid transit system in late 2019.

(more)

San Francisco Awards its first Bus Rapid Transit Construction Contract

SFMTA – (excerpt) dated Tuesday, July 7, 2015

…“This milestone is the latest example of how the City of San Francisco is coming together to get big projects done and improve our transportation network for everyone,” said Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors, Tom Nolan. “Opening in 2019, this project is an essential bus rapid transit option that will provide a quicker ride through a major corridor.”

The SFMTA has authorized a new integrated project delivery method that can be used across the agency as a way to deliver projects more efficiently. Under this new project delivery method, the awarded construction manager/general contractor, Walsh Construction Company for Van Ness BRT, will assist and advise the project team in completing the project’s design and planning its construction, including recommendations for schedule improvements and cost savings opportunities. Once the design is finalized, a guaranteed maximum price for the project will be negotiated. Walsh Construction Company has extensive experience building public infrastructure and transit projects nationally.

“One of our top priorities is to deliver key projects that make our transportation more reliable,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “The new integrated project delivery method allows for much-needed collaboration between our agency and the construction manager before the project begins. Pre-construction coordination is a win-win for the people doing the work, for the people impacted by it, and for the people who depend on these projects to keep San Francisco moving.”… (more)

How will this cut costs? How can you negotiate a deal on an unfinished design? This sounds like what happened to the Super Bowl negotiations. How did that turn out? Comments appreciated. They just spent 1.4 million dollars in 2010. Now they are going to re-construct what they just did?

RELATED: Does this mean Van Ness Avenue will be under construction for three years?
Diagram showing general timeline for project through service implementation

This seems to contradict the press release: The Van Ness Corridor Transit Improvement Project team is currently in the process of finalizing the design, determining the construction sequence and schedule, and finalizing the traffic management plan. When the design is completed, the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) and SFMTA will mutually agree on a Guaranteed Maximum Price, or the project may then be bid out… (more)

 

Trees, historic trolley poles to be removed for bus project

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

A challenge to The City’s Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project was shot down Wednesday night, in a blow to those looking to preserve trees and historic trolley poles on Van Ness Avenue.
The fight pitted residents who wanted to preserve historic fixtures against transit advocates and others interested in paving the way for faster bus service for thousands.

The trolley poles were first constructed in 1915 for the Pan Pacific International Expo, which drew thousands to San Francisco’s Marina district.

The San Francisco Board of Appeals voted down an appeal by the City’s Historic Preservation Commission, which previously granted the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency permission to remove trees and historic trolley poles for the construction of traffic medians as part of the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project.

The project would convert the two center lanes of Van Ness Avenue into red-painted bus-only lanes, and construct medians that act almost like train stops, in an effort to speed up Muni’s 47 and 49 bus lines.

The Historic Preservation Commission issued SFMTA a “certificate of appropriateness” to allow the project to move forward in November last year, but it was conditional. The SFMTA was told to preserve four of the historic trolley poles — two in front of City Hall, and two in front of the War Memorial building, and to create a plaque commemorating their historic significance.

The Board of Appeals decision to deny the appeal upholds the Historic Preservation Commission’s original decision to allow the SFMTA to continue, conditionally, with the Van Ness BRT project… (more)

Rob Anderson and Mary Miles Take Aim at the SFMTA’s Plans for Polk Street

This was the team that tied SFGov up in knots with an injunction for four long years.

FROM:
Mary Miles (SB #230395)
Attorney at Law
for Coalition for Adequate Review
San Francisco, CA 94102
TO:
Edward Reiskin, Director
Roberta Boomer, Board Secretary
and Members of the Board of Directors of the Municipal Transportation Agency
#1 South Van Ness Avenue, 7th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
DATE: March 3, 2015
PUBLIC COMMENT, MTA BOARD MEETING OF MARCH 3, 2015, AGENDA ITEM 12 (“Polk Streetscape Project”)
This is Public Comment on Agenda Item 12, the “Polk Streetscape Project” (“Polk Project” or “the Project”), on the MTA Board’s March 3, 2015 Agenda. Under the Brown Act and CEQA, you are legally obligated to accept and consider this Comment and to place it in all public files on the Project. Therefore, please assure that this Comment has been distributed to all members of the MTA Board and placed in all applicable files on the Project.
The “categorical exemptions” invoked do not apply to the Project, and therefore you may not lawfully approve the Project or any part of it as proposed, since such approval will violate the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) (Pub. Res. Code §§21000 et seq.)
The Project proposes to reduce traffic and turning capacity on Polk and other Streets by eliminating existing parking lanes, reducing traffic lanes and installing obstructions to traffic flow and turning on this busy commercial corridor.
The unusual and highly inconvenient scheduling of this hearing before the MTA Board after 3:00 p.m., on a day with an extraordinarily long MTA Board Agenda shows the MTA Board’s contempt for the public and the significant impacts of the Project. The hearing should be continued to a date and time when the public can be heard without waiting hours for hearings on unrelated matters, and where the public’s comments will receive the Board’s full and serious attention. The hearing precludes public attendance by many people, including all those people who have to be at work. Combined with the short notice, that scheduling deprives the public of the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the environmental review and administrative proceedings on the Project.
On January 15, 2015, the San Francisco Planning Department issued a “Certificate of Determination of Exemption from Environmental Review” (“Exemption”) claiming that the Project was categorically exempt under Classes 1, 2, and 4 of CEQA, invoking 14 Cal. Code Regs. [“Guidelines”] §§ 15301, 15302, and 15304. None of those categorical exemptions apply to this Project. Further, the significant cumulative impacts on traffic, transit, parking, loading, and air quality caused by the Van Ness BRT project one block away, and by the CPMC Project at Van Ness Avenue at Geary Boulevard, make the Polk Project not categorically exempt. (Guidelines §15300.2) Both of those Projects also present “unusual circumstances” precluding categorical exemption of the Polk Project.
1. The Polk Project Does Not Fit Within The Categorical Exemptions Invoked… (more)
This is not the only legal threat that we know of. We heard from other attorneys at the hearings. We will watch this closely.

SFMTA Planner Denies Plans to Create Evening Tow Away Zone along Upper Polk St

Press Release January 24, 2015

Luis Montoya, SFMTA lead planner of the Polk Streetscape Improvement Project, faced concerned residents and merchants in a closed door meeting Thursday in preparation for the upcoming January 30th Public Hearing to approve the agency’s long awaited project plans. Community members were alarmed to read that the MTA is proposing a morning and evening daily tow away zone for the implementation of a “temporary floating” bike lane from Pine to Broadway as posted on public notice posters wrapped along utility poles in their neighborhood.

Further questions and concerns grew from a report released from the planning department detailing the project’s exemption from an environmental impact report and the proposed plans including raised cycle tracks from Pine to Union, the removal of parking along the entire eastern side of Polk St, and the removal of up to 250 parking spaces at project completion. The report suggests the desire for future implementation of a full‐time raised cycle track along the east side of Polk St from Pine to Broadway (and permanent parking removal).

In response to these questions, Mr. Montoya commented that the posters were misprinted and there are absolutely no plans to implement a PM tow away zone along upper Polk St from Pine to Broadway.  He went on to comment that the report from the planning department is not his preferred proposal he will present at the public meeting on January 30th, but the planning department’s own interpretation of the project plans and data collected. How the Planning Department concluded the PM tow away zone he could not say. He did confirm his agency’s intention to implement the morning tow away zone despite minimal ridership numbers the SFMTA has recorded along northbound Upper Polk St on weekday mornings, and denied the SFMTA is planning to present a plan that calls for the removal of all northbound Polk St parking to create a raised cycle track from Pine to Broadway St  He added that his plan will remove approximately 150 parking spaces along the 1.3 mile Polk St. corridor (in addition to the hundreds of spaces being removed for the Van Ness BRT project), not the 250 listed in the Planning Department report.

At the conclusion of the meeting he asked the group for their trust and support despite the inaccurate and misleading public notice posters and planning department report, and left with a permanent marker in hand to personally alter the posted public notice signs.  On Friday a majority of the posters had been removed entirely, again questioning the agency’s accountability to the community in providing appropriate public outreach.

The Polk Streetscape Improvement Project public hearing will be held Friday, January 30th at 10AM in Hearing Room 416, City Hall.

This sounds like a real comedy of errors. Could this have anything to do with the Planning Department being overwhelmed with work requests? Time to slow down.

SFMTA approves parking, traffic for Van Ness BRT

By Jerold Chinn : sfbay – excerpt

he Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project moved a step forward after transit officials Tuesday approved the necessary parking and traffic changes along Van Ness Avenue to accommodate the $125 million bus rapid transit system.

The changes unanimously approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s directors Tuesday include restricting most left turns on Van Ness Avenue and removing parking spaces where the agency plans to put center bus boarding platforms…

Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit Stations

  • Market Street
  • McAllister Street
  • Eddy Street
  • Geary Boulevard
  • Sutter Street
  • Sacramento Street
  • Jackson Street
  • Vallejo Street
  • Union Street … (more)