Geary Blvd. to see safety, bus improvements with Geary Rapid Project


City leaders broke ground March 6 on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Geary Rapid Project, which aims to improve transit along Geary Boulevard and O’Farrell Street.

‘The groundbreaking ceremony marks the beginning of the first phase of the project, which will bring transit, safety and utility upgrades to a three-mile stretch of the heavily traveled corridors between Stanyan and Market streets, encompassing the city’s Western Addition and Japantown neighborhoods among others.

“I actually grew up right down the street, and we would take certain routes when we were kids … We would hang out and jump the fence and play in the playgrounds, then we would walk across Geary Boulevard and we would not necessarily walk in the light,” said Mayor London Breed. “Back then times were a lot of different.

“We’re providing bus rapid transit service for Geary Boulevard, with the sole purpose of improving our public transportation system on one of the most busiest lines in our city,” she said. “We are going to have to make sacrifices so that we can improve public transportation for future generations. That’s what today is about,” Breed said.

With bus stop changes and bus-only lanes already installed for the current 38-Geary and 38R-Geary Rapid bus lines, SFMTA officials said the first phase of the project will include new crosswalks, transit signal priority so that buses can catch green lights, and bulb-outs, which keep buses in the transit lane while picking up passengers and giving riders more space to wait.

SFMTA officials are hoping those improvements will help reduce delays along the two bus lines, which serve more than 54,000 riders daily.

The project also involves the replacement of one and a half miles of sewer and two miles of water pipelines along Geary Boulevard. Once that work is done, roadway repaving will commence between Masonic and Van Ness avenues.

Also, to go with the city’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024, more pedestrian countdown signals will be added to the area and 18 intersections will receive new pedestrian bulbs.
SFMTA officials said there are also plans to decrease the number of travel lanes between Scott and Gough streets to reduce speeding.

A median pedestrian refuge area on Geary Boulevard at Buchanan Street is also planned, featuring decorative panels honoring the three neighborhoods in the area, Japantown, Western Addition and St. Francis Square.

The project also calls for the removal of the pedestrian bridge at Geary Boulevard and Steiner Street, which transit officials said is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will be replaced with a surface-level crosswalk.

The first phase of the Geary Rapid Project is expected to cost around $12 million, according to Tilly Chang, executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

Once the first phase is complete, the second phase will see similar transit improvements to Geary Boulevard west of Stanyan to 34th Avenue, SFMTA officials. The entire project is expected to be finished by spring 2021, SFMTA officials said.

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