Unclogging the Cesar Chavez Traffic Sewer

cc_median_after_small.jpgA 14' median with trees will be added to Cesar Chavez when the bicycle injunction is lifted
One of the many casualties of the bicycle injunction has been the community led plan for reconstruction of Cesar Chavez Street between Guerrero and the 101.  Over the past five years, community groups led by CC Puede, the Precita Valley Neighbors (PVN), Mission Antidisplacement Coalition (MAC), Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), and PODER have participated in workshops and charettes that produced a plan to transform a traffic sewer into a livable street with greenery, a bike lane, wide sidewalks, and safe pedestrian crossing times. 

Part_time_bikes.jpgPart time bike lane?

Now that the injunction appears to be just months from being lifted, CC Puede is optimistic the project will be a triumph of organizing that transforms a traffic wall between two neighborhoods into a boulevard linking Bernal Heights with the Mission.  The proposed bike lanes on both sides of the street will add connectivity to important segments of the Bicycle Plan, such as the widely used Valencia Street lane.  The new lanes will be full time, too, unlike the measly offering currently on Cesar Chavez.

Though CC Puede's Fran Taylor lamented the delay, she found optimism in the process, arguing "it could be good that it's taken three years because people have had time to get use to the project." She noted that PVN was initially concerned that limiting throughput on Cesar Chavez would drive traffic to Precita Avenue.  She  said that there was substantial debate over what would happen with day laborers who often stand on Cesar Chavez waiting for work, though by bringing Day Labor Program organizers to the table, many of the concerns were addressed.

The redesign project was initially championed by Supervisors Dufty, Maxwell, and Ammiano (now Campos) and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the MTA, the Planning Department, and the Department of Public Works (DPW) worked with CC Puede and the community to refine the plan and give it the city's blessing.  The PUC has delayed the reconstruction of a sewer main beneath the street with the expectation that the bicycle injunction will be lifted soon and the problem won't become too urgent, though project partners admit that timeliness is essential and the PUC won't be happy with further delays.

Planning's City Design Group spearheaded fundraising for the project that is expected to cost $6 million, of which $3 million will come from federal TEA-21 funds, $1.5 million from the PUC, $700,000 from a state grant to Planning and a $400,00 concession from the developer of a new building at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Mission Streets.

Andres Power of Planning described features of the new vision at a recent meeting at PVN:

  • Three lanes of traffic will be reduced to two in each direction
  • A bike lane will be added in each direction
  • A fourteen foot median will be planted in the middle
  • Every corner will get pedestrian treatments, including bulbouts, better crosswalks and storm-water catchment planters
  • The end of Capp Street at Mission will become a plaza and crossing distances will be reduced

Once the injunction is lifted the plan will begin construction immediately.  Power expects the project to be completed within one year, which could be by the summer of 2010.

cesarchavez_median_perspective_fog.jpg
CC_median_proposed_plan.jpg

Photos: Planning Department