Mayor Lee Proposes $248 Million Bond Measure for Street Improvements

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee proposed a $248 million bond measure today that he hopes will make the city’s neglected streets smoother and safer for all users.

“Regular citizens are suffering from our inaction on this,” Lee said at a City hall press conference. He was flanked by backers from the Board of Supervisors along with pedestrian, bicycle, disability and labor advocates.

“The statistics will continue to show that of the 850 miles of streets we have, almost half of them are in deterioration, and they get more expensive over time,” the Mayor said. “That affects the people who ride bikes, the people who drive, and the pedestrians that use our streets.”

The Road Repaving and Street Safety Bond [pdf] would gear $50 million to pedestrian, bicycle and streetscape projects, $148 million to repaving roads, $22 million to provide accessible curb ramps, $20.3 million for transit priority traffic signals, and $7.3 million for improvements to other structures such as bridges, tunnels, viaducts, and stairs.

The bond would prioritize street projects by providing advanced funding and making it easier to obtain grants from federal, state, and local agencies.

Improvements to the pedestrian realm would include constructing visible crosswalks, fixing broken sidewalks, expanding public space, and installing new curb ramps to comply with the American Disabilities Act. New transit-priority traffic signals would speed up Muni along with repaving projects that would create safer roads for bicycling. Other bike projects could help appease the growing demand for separated bikeways.

“To the extent that our public rights of way, our streets and sidewalks are not in good condition, not safe, or not accessible, we are not as mobile as a society as we need to be,” said Department of Public Works Director Ed Reiskin.

Reiskin said $50 million that would be dedicated to pedestrian, bicycle, and streetscape improvements would not be subdivided.

The measure needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors as well as by voters in November, but it already has the sponsorship of Supervisors Eric Mar, Ross Mirkarimi, David Campos, Scott Wiener, John Avalos, and Board President David Chiu.

“I have to tell you, it’s a normal routine existence for any one of us on the Board of Supervisors to be fielding complaints literally every single day about the conditions of our streets,” said Mirkarimi, noting the piecemeal way in which streets are typically fixed. “That reactive strategy has got to stop. Now it’s time the city gets ahead of the game.”

SF Bike Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum pointed out that members complain about the dangers of potholes to the same extent they do speeding motor traffic.

“This is a great opportunity to not just bring our streets back up to par, but to actually bring some of our good streets to great streets, because there is funding here,” said Shahum. “We have the opportunity to spread that throughout the city and make sure that walking, biking, and transit are wonderful experiences in all our communities.”