Western Cesar Chavez Streetscape Project to Be Completed in Summer 2013

Crews perform sewer work on Cesar Chavez, a prelude to streetscape changes scheduled for completion in 2013. Photos: Aaron Bialick

Construction on the Cesar Chavez Sewer and Streetscape Improvement Project will be completed a few months behind schedule in summer 2013, according to the SF Department of Public Works.

DPW’s Kris Opbroek said the streetscape portion will begin in the spring as completion of the sewer work moves west. When finished, the project will transform Cesar Chavez Street, from Hampshire to Guerrero Streets, with a wide planted median, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian safety improvements.

City staff and construction crews showcased the site last Friday as Mayor Ed Lee, who formerly headed the DPW, paid a visit to the project. It’s the largest yet under the city’s Great Streets Program, which has completed six streetscape projects since it began in 2005 and has another nine in the pipeline or under construction, according to a press release from the mayor’s office. Cesar Chavez, budgeted at $35.2 million, is the biggest project funded by the Great Streets Program to date.

The SFMTA is also developing plans for bike lanes on the eastern side of Cesar Chavez, just across “The Hairball”, after the mayor’s office pressured the agency into dropping a previous iteration of the plan in June.

Crew members on break.
Staff tour the construction site.
Construction will continue moving west.
The construction's occupation of vehicle lanes has put Cesar Chavez on a de facto road diet.
  • Wow, all this work and just for bike lanes, but not full separation. But if you say it’s “safe” over and over it magically becomes safe!!

  • I live right around the corner on Alabama. If it’s supposed to last another 20 months, I don’t think you should have titled the first picture “Construction crews complete work…” but BEGIN work.

  • LoveSF

    I agree. This will still be a pretty dangerous bike route, even when completed. what a mess for the residents to live thru this for 20 months, all for mostly bikes. I hope the trees and center landscape improve their area more than the bikes will.

  • Fran Taylor

    Sewer, sewer, sewer!!! The street isn’t being torn up for two years just to stripe a bike lane. It’s replacing the sewer line first. That’s what all the mess is about.

  • Aaron Bialick

    Apologies if the article was misleading, but bike lanes are only a drop in the bucket of what this project is doing. Check out more about it on the website

  • LoveSF, I meant to say the bike part will only be lanes, rather than what is necessary on such a busy street. Bulb outs and trees are nice but actually medians make vehicles move faster. A pedestrian refuge is simply an indication of a too wide, too fast street possibly with too short a green for slower moving pedestrians.

  • LoveSF

    @Green_Idea_Factory:disqus : I’m not aware of any studies that truly say that medians make traffic go faster. Can you prove that?
    Medians are not really meant to be pedestrian “refuge zones”. They are meant to add much needed trees and greenery to an otherwise bleak concrete freeway. If the traffic is indeed “too fast” there are other ways to slow it down; speed limits, longer red lights. But let’s be real: this section of Cesar Chavez is  a much used and much needed route for many many people to get to 101 going north or south. That will not change.

  • ZA_SF

    I just hope they get the heavy equipment phase done before the next seasonal rains. Cesar Chavez always returns to being the creek it was before asphalt.

  • Anonymous

    Article in Code sez bike lanes cannot be used for traffic calming.
    Really. It’s in there; look it up and see for yourself.

  • Anonymous

    @feefbdf37653f0bdc7a056fc49367712:disqus We’ve had this conversation before on Streetsblog:
    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2011/02/08/folsom-street-road-diet-includes-bike-lanes-bus-bulbs-in-the-mission/

    But yes, medians do encourage drivers to go faster. See, for example:
    http://journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/CJT/article/view/671/3306
    [edited to fix link]

  • Anonymous

    So we don’t rehash arguments, everyone commenting should read the comments from one of the previous stories on this topic:
    http://sf.streetsblog.org/2011/02/01/cesar-chavez-street-redesign-approved-by-sfmta-board/

  • Anonymous

    “I’m not aware of any studies that truly say that medians make traffic go faster.”

    I believe that the idea is that a concrete curbed lane divider does not provide anything to divert drivers’ attention thereby encouraging one to keep his foot on the gas pedal.

    A landscaped median, however, slows traffic because drivers – even peripherally – will notice the greenery, easing up on the gas to go slower to do so.

  • Anonymous

    Continuing, if you just think about the idea of a median for a second and extend it to its extremes, you see very clearly how it works. One extreme is the freeway, where it handles the fastest traffic speeds and has the largest medians. Would you want to be going 70 mph with cars going 70 mph the opposite direction a few feet away from you? It’s clear how that would be less safe.

    The other extreme would be pedestrians walking. They don’t even get medians, let alone is their an official right-of-way rule (like stay to the right), and that’s because they are going so slow.

    So if you want traffic to go faster, you need to make it safer, which means (among other things) adding medians. Medians move a road design towards the freeway extreme of things, where cars are given precedence over all else. This is not appropriate in an urban environment with pedestrians and cyclists and neighborhoods that do not want to deal with the roar of traffic. If you want cars to go slower, you don’t let them feel “safe”, something which a median affords. They shouldn’t expect the road to be like a freeway with no traffic. Instead, they should be going slow looking out for vulnerable road users and considering the neighborhood through which they are passing.

  • ZA_SF

    1. This median design includes turning lanes with more one-ways going onto and off of Cesar Chavez. This should improve vehicle traffic time to get onto the highway by avoiding the long line of waiting cars for the one guy trying to complete their turn.
    2. Having a median, with greenery, serves the combined functions of
    – a safer break for crossing pedestrians,
    – visually constraining vehicle traffic (drivers tend to slow down),
    – creating a slit for rainwater to recharge the soil (maybe reduce seasonal flooding)

    …ultimately serving as a “bridge” between the Mission and Precita now divided by the 6-to-8-lane highway we call Cesar Chavez.

  • mikesonn

    I’m with jd_x. I do not like medians and they do speed traffic. I’d don’t buy the argument that they “visually constrain vehicle traffic”. I think it tends more to what jd_x was saying in that it tends to make drivers feel more like they are on a freeway then a city street.

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