Eyes On The Street: Potrero Median Fence Is Partially Built

Potrero_Fence_1.jpgPhotos by Matthew Roth

A five-foot tall median fence that some advocates fear will actually make the area more dangerous for pedestrians is now being installed on Potrero Avenue between 25th Street and Cesar Chavez. As my colleague Matthew Roth has reported, DPW and MTA are erecting the fence to to prevent people from making "illegal and unsafe crossings" in the middle of the block between Rolph Playground and Potrero del Sol Park. Some neighbors and advocates pointed out the city reopened the park, which has become wildly popular, without any consideration for pedestrians who want to cross back and forth. The fence idea was initiated after the Mayor noticed people were crossing in the middle of the block.

After protests from advocates about the lack of a community process (the fence was planned to go up without any public input or outreach), a meeting was held March 25th. At that time, the Planning Department presented a conceptual design for a permanent mid-block ped-activated signal, crosswalk, and pedestrian refuge, which garnered strong support from advocates. The signal and crosswalk would cost between $150,000 to $300,000.

For now, the fence will be completed and remain up until the agencies can agree on a long-term solution, backed with funding. In an email, Fran Taylor of CC Puede said she still very concerned:

I think it will encourage people to cross at the most dangerous point, at the southern end of the fence close to the offramp onto Potrero, where cars will be traveling fastest and have the least time to see someone and slow down. I also think agile young people can jump it, but while they’re stuck on the median, now they’ll have only half the space on either side of the fence that they did before The meeting did produce some near-consensus that a broader solution involving traffic calming should follow what everyone seemed to recognize was a stopgap measure.

She added, "I hope no one gets hurt because of this fence, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone does."

Potrero_Fence_2.jpgThe unfinished portion. DPW says it's awaiting 13 fence panels to complete the project.

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